Ep. #94 The Key to All Creative Collaborations

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #94 The Key to All Creative Collaborations
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“Negotiation” shouldn’t be a scary word.  Advocating for yourself and your values is cool, AND it is part of the job! In this episode, I discuss the role of intimacy coordinators and how much they can teach us about establishing and communicating boundaries in our work (and in our lives).  We practice using the terms Yes, AND” and “No, BUT” to set clear parameters that will help to protect your mental and physical self as well as your time, money, and energy! So, if you are someone who struggles with setting boundaries, THIS ONE’S FOR YOU!

Quick Links:

Tits and Teeth Podcast Intamacy Episode: https://podcasts.apple.com/il/podcast/christina-pitts-jazzar-intimacy-coordination/id1417619719?i=1000526228784

Episode 15 with the Seaweed Sisters: https://www.thedanawilson.com/podcast/ep-15-the-seaweed-sisters-who-are-we-and-what-is-this

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: Good day. Good people. What’s up and welcome to words that move me. I’m Dana and I, as always am stoked about this episode. The subject for today’s episode came up from one of my beloved Words that Move me Community members. And I actually cannot believe I haven’t done an episode about this yet, so thrilled about it. Um, but before we dig in wins, would you wins at the top of every episode? And this week I am celebrating last week’s episode with the one and only Nina McNeely was officially our 100th episode that is including bonus episodes and our first episode, which was episode 0.5, which is funny, but also how many times can I say episode in the introduction to the episode? So many times it turns out. Um, so yes, I know last week’s episode was number 93, but, uh, yeah, I’m celebrating it as 100. That is my win. Um, because that’s how many episodes I recorded. So I celebrated by taking myself to my favorite vintage shop in the valley. It’s called Yes Baby, by the way, it’s quickly becoming my favorite vintage shop in all of Los Angeles. I spent $100 there. I got a jacket, a hoodie, a sweater, two t-shirts one of which I’m wearing right now. It’s gigantic, almost comes to knees. Oh, and an enamel pin. Pen, pen pin. I’m really still working on the voice you guys. And it turns out being a girl from the Midwest. I have some interesting speech patterns and inflections. An enamel pin for Smac. Smac Mcreanor. Or if you’re listening, I have a gift for you. Um, yeah, total jackpot. I love you Yes, baby. I love you listeners. I love you. My team, Malia Baker, Riley Higgins. Thank you for helping me reach that 100 mile marker. And for actual episode 100, which is still out there in the distance. Uh, numerically speaking, we are having a $100 cash prize giveaway episode. 100 will come out on November 24th. So this contest, this giveaway contest will happen for the whole week of that episode. Starting on November 22nd, ending on November 26th, we are going to have an Instagram contest, $100 cash prize giveaway. It’s exciting. Stay tuned here and also follow us at Words that Move me podcast on the gram for more details about that. All right. Woo-hoo for winning. I hope you win the contest by the way. And I do hope you’re winning, uh, in your life and in your career. Go ahead and, and take the floor. Take the mic. If you will, for a moment. Think about and tell me or someone that you’re with about what is going well in your world. Let’s hear it.  

*Cup Bubbles* That’s just me and my cup, bubbles working on my voice. Okay. Congratulations. I’m so glad you’re winning. And I want you to keep winning, keep celebrating all of the good things going well in your world. Now, speaking of things going well, I want you to use your imagination for a second. Imagine your hero. This could be a real person in your life. Someone that you know, someone you don’t know yet, or it could be a full-blown superhero action, figure, animated character, your call. Imagine your hero. And imagine that they have just handed you a gold token, like a coin, but I’m going to go with token. It’s heavy. It’s gold. It’s shiny. It’s perfectly new and glorious. It’s about the same size as your favorite slammer. For those of you who used to play pogs dammit. Now I have really dated myself. Anyway, your hero hands, you this slammer coin token thing, and they tell you that this token can be exchanged for success in any creative collaboration. Yes. This coin buys you a happy, healthy, fortunate, flourishing nourishing experience on any slash all creative projects. And you take this token coin slammer thing, and you’re like, thank you, whoa, whoa, dope. You sure you don’t need this? And they’re like, yeah, hang on to it. So you keep it and you take a close look on one side. There is a picture in your imagination. Just use your imagination, a vast boundless body of water. Maybe that’s California king size water bed. Maybe it’s an ocean. Maybe it’s a river, vast something almost endless as far as the eye can see. And on that same side of the coin are the words, “Yes, And” on the other side of the coin, there is an image of a lifesaver. No, not the candy. Okay, fine. Maybe the candy I did ask for your imagination after all. Um, but I was imagining, you know, the, the rings, the, you know, the, the inner tube type inflatable hoop, what is that thing even made of probably foam. I digress on the side of the coin that has the image of the life saver. There are the words. “No, but.” Yes. ‘No, but’ is the focus of our conversation today? If you are a person who struggles with setting boundaries, this one is for you, my friend. Way back in episode 15, the seaweed sisters, and I put a magnifying glass on the power of yes. And the seaweed sisters trademarked this philosophy that we 100% borrowed from improv comedy. Um, if we coined the technique, ‘yes, and’ then on the flip side of that coin would be ‘no, but.’ No, but is equally as powerful. And oddly, I really haven’t talked about it on the podcast yet. Honestly, that’s because it’s newer to me than “yes, and” so in this episode, I want to unpack how the “no, but” mentality can empower you, your physical and mental self, but also your time, your money and your sweet, sweet energy.  

So let’s dig in. Okay. “Yes, And” is powerful because it makes room for new ideas and growth. It fosters safety, freedom, collaboration, risk, and no, but is powerful because it sets boundaries. It protects you. It also fosters freedom and respect, but for your physical and mental self, that can mean big, big, really, really important stuff. One of the best examples of the “no, but” mentality in action came to me last summer when I was deep into listening to other people’s podcasts, I was listening to an interview with dancer, choreographer and intimacy coordinator, Christina Pittz Jazzar . She was on the tits and teeth podcast. So super shout out to them and big shout out to intimacy coordinators all over the world. I will 100% link to that episode, um, of tits and teeth. It’s a, it’s a really good lesson. That’ll be linked in the show notes.  If you haven’t heard of intimacy coordinators or aren’t entirely familiar with what they do by all means, listen to that episode, but we’ll give you a very brief explanation now, just for context, intimacy coordinators advocate for the actors. And they are the liaison between the director and their vision and the performers who will be portraying intimate moments, which don’t necessarily mean simulated sex scenes or nudity or romantic affection. They could also include any spectrum of physical contact with minors like mother/daughter, or father/daughter scene. Any, any minors, any physical contact exchanged, um, between minors, the intimacy coordinator basically communicates consent and make sure that everyone feels comfortable and safe well before. And also as the cameras roll in that episode, Christina talks about how her job usually starts by dissecting the script and any scenes that call for intimate exchanges between characters. She also communicates with the director to get a grasp for their vision, and then discusses that vision with the performers. That’s where “Yes, And,” and “No, but” come in very handy, no pun intended during these conversations, performers get to voice their concerns, questions, sensitivities, et cetera, and a negotiation may follow. For example, “are you comfortable simulating sex?”

“No, but I’m comfortable with kissing” or “no, but I’m comfortable with partial nudity” or “no, but I’m comfortable using a body double” or “yes, And I would like to add to the writer that my partner or representative be present for all rehearsals and the shooting of those scenes.”

Can you see how important these conversations are to have period and how helpful “yes, and” and “no, but” can be in having those conversations. It should be pointed out that dancers are often asked to physically engage in some sort of intimate or sexually charged connection. I’m thinking specifically of like 75% of the VMs from 2021, it was a very sexy year and sex sells. Should not be shocked that that is what shows up, um, in the recording industry. But, um, I do think it’s important to point out that whether that type of contact be in the form of partnering or a big ensemble group moment, A la: slave for you, that music video is still one of my all-time favorites. Um, we rarely have an intimacy coordinator there to advocate for us in those situations. And I think it’s a really interesting thing that it’s not discussed, um, people’s degree of comfort being involved in that sort of thing. Um, so anyways, I really hope that all dancers listening understand that you don’t need an intimacy coordinator on set to say yes and or no, but, um, you don’t need a writer or a contracted agreement to advocate for yourself. Um, I really do encourage actually that even as you’re listening, you start thinking about what you’re comfortable doing and what you’re not comfortable doing, how you might frame those parameters using “yes, and” and “no, but” um, in a rehearsal space. Also I think that sometimes those conversations are good to be had in private. You can see how the role of an intimacy coordinator is so important because I’m sure as you’re listening and imagining yourself in a large group environment, how having that conversation might be slightly uncomfortable. Yes, this is, this is why we love intimacy coordinators. Um, okay. Back up, back up, I think intimate scenes, aren’t the only times in which a dancer might use this type of language. Um, in other words, when, when we’re doing like sexually charged, it’s the best way I can think to put it right now, um, movement with other people. That’s, that’s not the only time we could use. “Yes and” / “No, but” to advocate for yourself, um, I’ll give you an example. One of my favorite least favorite questions that I get asked in auditions is can you do any tricks or can you flip well, um, never really been a, a trick type of performer and I can definitely not flip. I don’t like being upside down. I blame it on sinus pressure and also the fear of breaking my neck. Um, I truly, I think it’s too late for me to gain any acro skills. Uh, so my answer to that question is always a firm. “No, but I am super funky and I hear I’m a pleasure to work with” or “no, but I can do this big smile and two thumbs up.” Um, that’s a bad example, let’s imagine that you are someone who is skilled in the Acro department. You can flip, you might empower yourself by responding to that question. “Yes, And I have about 15 to 20 good takes of a tumbling pass before that might get a little bit risky in terms of energy” or “no, I can’t flip, but I can do an Ariel, a HeadSpin six pure pirouettes,” or fill in the blank with any move you’d be comfortable doing for eight hours.  This “yes and / no, but” approach is so much more informative than a simple yes or no. I think it’s not just informative. It’s empowering. It’s professional. Now those are both pretty clear examples of how yes and or no, but can be useful to protect your mental and physical self. Now I want to explain how “no, but” boundaries can protect your time, money and energy. Now I’ll, I’ll reach out out my dear friend from the Words that Move me community who brought this up in a, in a group coaching forum recently. They’re new to Los Angeles. They’re wildly talented. And of course, everyone is asking them to be a part of their projects. Some number of which are unpaid. They found themselves in a position where they felt over committed, underpaid, exhausted, and afraid of being forgotten under some pressure that if they say no, something bad might happen, this is the crux of loving what you do and doing what you love for a living. It’s also a huge part of being human. The bottom line here for this human is that they believed that they weren’t yet in a position to say, no, they believe they’re still in the early stages. We’re doing things for free is pretty much a given. So they did, they did things for free and in doing so, they donated their time, their talent and their energy. And yes, there probably were some non-monetary exchanges being made like exposure. My other favorite least favorite. Or good-looking material for the real, that’s a real thing or networking opportunities. So on. So on. So on, I agree. Those are all metaphorical money in the bank, but they don’t actually pay the bills like today. So something has to change for this person. And it’s not necessarily the number of jobs that they say yes to, or the number of favors that they do.   It’s the way they are thinking. And it’s the boundaries that they create and communicate for themselves. So let’s practice doing that, setting those boundaries, having those conversations in a little role-play, let’s say that someone asks you to help them out for free or do a gig at a quote homey rate unquote, which somehow means for less than what you should be getting. And that doesn’t make sense to me because I want my homies to make more money than they quote should or shouldn’t be getting. But anyways, someone asks you to do something for free or at a seriously discounted rate. You might say, no, I can’t commit to that amount of time, but I would love to drop in for an hour. If that’s an option, another option might be no, but if you need help or input styling, editing, story-boarding, I’m really interested in helping in those ways. Or also you don’t need to give a reason why you can just straight up say no, no, but I’m thrilled that you thought of me. And I hope we can kick ass making stuff together in the future. Boom, it’s so simple, right? Simple, not easy for people who are not used to saying no, this can be a challenge, but you know what else is challenging? Paying your bills and making no money and saying yes to all of the things and not protecting your time, your talent and your energy. Now, I don’t want to totally blow your mind here. No, but is definitely the soloist of this episode. But while we’re here, we might as well consider a few other options. Like ‘yes If’ or ‘yes, when’ that opens the floor for things like, uh, yes. If I meet my fixed expenses for the first or yes. If food travel gas and wardrobe are covered or yes. If I can be credited as co choreographer. Yes. When I finished my work on this other paid gig, there are so many details in between. Yes and no. We get to negotiate my friends.  And when you get clear with yourself about what you are willing and not willing to do, and when you advocate for yourself, you might be shocked to find out how much is actually in your power to change, to set as standard. You have that power to make that change. In fact, a power dynamic is exactly that a dynamic, if only one side had power, it would be a power solo. It’s not, it’s a power dynamic. It would be a power ISO. It would be a power isolation, but it’s a power dynamic. You are included in that dynamic as having power. Don’t give it away. You aren’t threatened. You are wanted, you have. Yes, you have. No, you have. Yes, And. Yes, If. Yes, when. and you have No, but. Don’t take that the wrong way. You have a great butt you have a beautiful butt even if, whether it is a Debbie cake or a wedding cake, you have a glorious perfect cake. Your cake is great. Good butts, everyone all around. No, but is powerful though. Don’t forget it.  All right. My friend, that’s it. That is the key to success. The token that I hope you keep in your pocket and use often. Yes and no, but, and all the terms in between, they are so helpful in collaborative processes, process, processes, process, you can and should advocate for yourself. And those terms can help. You can negotiate your own terms. In fact, it’s part of the job. Do you see all of the ways that you can be excited about people, be excited about together, be excited about opportunities and still set boundaries. You can be available and say, no. Advocating for yourself is sexy. It is professional. And if you’re dealing with another professional, be they sexy or not, they will likely be open to working with you. When you set those terms, they’ll likely be willing to set terms that make sense for you both. And I hope that you do that. And I hope that while you do that, you keep it funky. That’s it for me, my friend. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating and review because your words move me too. Number two, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops and so much more. All right. That’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #93 Outside the Box with Nina McNeely

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #93 Outside the Box with Nina McNeely
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This episode’s guest is the reason I pursued a professional career in dance,but she isn’t only an inspiration and a hero in MY life, she is a creative leader in the entertainment industry at large.  Nina McNeely’s work is singular… it is dark, it is bright, and so is she.  I can’t wait for you to hear her thoughts about social media and the way it has changed BRAVERY in art.  We also explore the side effects of “fitting in” and being too precious with our work and each other.  We discuss the value of repetition and the impermanence of LIVE dance, and we go deep on what she thinks about thinking outside of the box.  You’ll laugh, you’ll learn, and on the other side of this episode, you’ll be ready to experiment and be bold with your work!  ENJOY!

Quicklinks:

Black Midi – John L: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT0nSp8lUws

Caroline Busta’s article on Counterculture: https://www.documentjournal.com/author/caroline-busta/

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: My friend, Dana here. Welcome to words that moved me. I must admit it was a big talking weekend. You can probably hear it in my voice. I’m taking it easy today. I’m going to let our guest speak for herself. I am so beyond excited for this episode, but I am taking it easy on my voice. So let’s get right in to wins right now. This very moment. It is thunder storming in Los Angeles and I love it. This is a perfect win for today’s episode because today’s guest is both bright, like lightning and dark like a storm. She is simply so phenomenal. So celebrating my guest today, as well as this beautiful Los Angeles thunderstorm. What are you celebrating, what’s going well in your world? 

Nice. Congratulations. I am so glad that you’re winning. Now. There are 100 ways I could go about introducing today’s guest. I could get nostalgic. I could fan girl. I could scream with enthusiasm, but I can’t, several months post vocal cord surgery. I am encouraged not to scream. So I will say this. If I were Harry Potter, today’s guest would be my dark arts teacher. She’s someone I admire respect and has taught me so much over the years. I am thrilled for you to learn from her as well, and I cannot wait for you to find out how thoughtful in hysterical she is. So without any further ado, go ahead and enjoy the eighth wonder of the world as far as I’m concerned, the fabulous Nina McNeely. 

Dana: And we’re live, um, the dance duet, the virtual dance duet. That just happened was pretty epic. My heart rate is in fat burning zone. I’m sweating from both armpits and I am so excited to have you here. Nina McNeely. Welcome to the podcast.  

Nina: Thank you for having me.  

Dana: I’m so, so stoked about this. Um, okay. The first part, maybe the easiest part, maybe the hardest part kind of up to you. I’d love for you to start by introducing yourself. Um, simply let us know anything you would like us to know about you. I’m so curious to see how this goes.  

Nina: My given name is Nina McNeely, and I would describe myself as a troll and that’s about it.  

Dana: Uh, troll Nina McNeely, the troll, everyone. Um, I will only add to that, that you are a wildly talented troll. I have mentioned you on the podcast before as being the reason why I pursued dance. We sort of grew up together, shared a couple years at Michelle Latimer dance academy before making our way to Los Angeles. You a couple of years before me. And, um, I just so admired your career then, now, always. And so I’m really excited to get to talk about work with you today, work in life and things. Um, so I want to start actually by talking about, um, a moment that started to happen and then we put it in a parking lot. So I I’m thrilled by the way, to be like still getting to know you in our adult lives. Because in our teenage years we were teenagers. I came over recently. I was telling you about this movie, um, Mitchells versus Machines and the hero of this animated, like kids movie or family movie, I guess I would call it is a content creator. She’s a filmmaker and about to go to school in LA for film. And she’s explaining herself in her weird family and how they’re misunderstood. And she says, so I did what any other outsider would do and made weird art. And you were like, oh, weird. And it had this moment of like, don’t get me started on weird. So I want to start the podcast by getting you started on this concept of weird art. Like what adjectives would you rather use? Number one to describe your work and what would you say is out of the box, shall we say these days?  

Nina: Well, I think it’s interesting that we’ve been reduced to weird. When you look in the art world, we have, you know, in the fine art world, there’s surrealism, impressionist, Renaissance, all these descriptive words. And we’ve just been reduced to weird, which I don’t understand how that happened. I don’t know if it’s because we abandoned those labels before or something, but if I would describe myself as one of those fine art things, I would want to be a surrealist or I would want my choreography and artwork to be viewed that way, because I do find myself making things in this more kind of like fantasy dream state kind of place that I think to your regular Joe, they’re like, wow, that’s weird. And I guess with the outside the box thing, well, I mean, I just get asked that all the time, like, Ooh, this new pop star is looking for something really outside of the box.  

Oh yes. That’s code for weird. Okay. Yeah.  

Code for weird. And I’m always like, well, what’s outside of the box to me is not what they think is weird. You know what I mean? Like to me outside of the box is like something ancient and old or based in tradition, you know, because we’ve gotten so far from that recently, you know, our, I even was, you know, one of my last pieces was kind of based in religion a little bit, also something unpopular right now. So I guess, you know, it’s in the eye of the beholder, what outside of the box actually means. And I definitely, I definitely think people try to be weird, um, which is very kind of obvious at first glance or something. But maybe to me, the people that I’ve found there are just subversive and interesting. And like, I can’t wrap my head around at first, like takes me a minute are maybe people that are just extremely like intuitive and trust their instincts. Like when I think of people like that, I think of like Kitty McNamee like when we danced on Hysterica back in the day we used to ask her like, you know, what’s my, uh, what’s my motivation on this part? Or what, what does this part mean? Or, you know, what am I supposed to be thinking of? And she’d be like, I don’t know. And we’d be like, what? She’d be like, what does it mean to you? What do you feel? You know what I mean? And I always admired that kind of openness where she isn’t trying to force or hyper control this idea, but she let something like take on a new life or become created in that rehearsal instead of being a control freak. You know what I mean? And I think I’m really trying to do that more and more with my work. Like I’d like to know less what my work is about and just trust it.  

I love this notion. I think I would have a very hard time achieving that type of distance from my self in my thoughts about my work. I think that’s usually where my work begins thinking about thinking, um, partially, possibly, because that’s sort of a new space that I’m living in metacognition and just being, thinking about my thoughts, it’s a place that I like to be, but I can see the value in art and certainly in the creative process of openness and not knowing, I mean, in creative fields in general, they spring from not knowing or from not having already done. So there must be tremendous power there. That’s exciting to me. Um,  

Thank you. 

It’s hard though. It’s hard though, because I’m an extremely analytical person and I like, you know, I like being prepared and knowing what I’m doing, but sometimes in our industry, we are not given that, that luxury.  Exactly. Like it was going to say on, uh, the Black Midi music video, John L, that I did, I tried to just like, listen to the music, go on a walk and see what was like the first thing that popped into my head. And first off I was like, well, this sounds like Primus and it’s fucking awesome. And uh, I love Primus. And then that somehow triggered this memory of the mascot of Domino’s Pizza in the nineties, which was this little guy called The Noid. 

I remember this! 

Yeah. He was in this red unitards with these bunny ears and he moved really fast and he was like a stop motion. Playmation kind of guy. And I don’t know why that song made me think of him. And I was like, fighting it at first. I was like, you are such a fucking weirdo. Why are you thinking of the Domino’s Pizza mascot right now? And then I was like, you know what, no, fuck it. Let her in, let it in. Hence the dancers being in red unitard. Yeah. 

Yes. And then, and then turn it up. Like let it in and dial it up to 12. Turn it way up. Big, big fan, big, big fan of that work. It stopped me dead in my tracks. I’m not going to give away the ending. I want everybody to go watch it. Um, the Black Midi video, I will link to it in the show notes, click on over to the show notes for easy access. Um, I watched it two times back to back, laughed hysterically was concerned genuinely, um, may have, may have started sweating cause it really, it escalates and it’s wild and in, and playful and smart in so many ways. But one of the things I wanted to ask you because outside of my senior solo in 2004, you and I have not worked together professionally. So I am curious about your process when I watched that Black Midi video, which you, by the way, directed, designed and choreographed, correct. Edit, uh, edited. Did I say that as well?  

Yeah, I did all the animations and compositions and stuff in a crazy time crunch where also when that happens, that’s another time that’s really good to trust your instincts because you don’t have any other choice.  And you’re like, I don’t know what this is, but I’m going with  

Nice. I don’t know an answer to that question in order to move forward. No,  

I also knew with that one, because there were so many elements that I was like, you know, if I just make the dance really strong, everything else will kind of fall into place. And so I kind of made the dance, like the choreography kind of the first thought and then let you know, put all like put, made sure we had a lot of rehearsal, which in our world means four rehearsals back to back, no time to let it sink in for the dancers, just go. And that song is like five and a half minutes or something insane.  

It’s an opera. I think it’s has different phases and life’s of its own.  

And I was like, this song is pure fucking chaos to the dancers. I was like every five minutes. I was like, do you need water? And they were like, no, we’re good. And I was like, God Bless a dance company, Entity Dance Company. You know, now they’re not just music, video dancing. They’re used to being in rehearsal and like training all day, eight hours a day, they have a synergy with each other, you know, they can like, they, like as soon as they know the choreography that kind of get in sync through their peripheral vision. Ooh. You know, because  

Yeah, that’s the thing that we, and we don’t have that as much in the gig to gig economy that is, you know, freelancing in LA. Um, I am, I didn’t know, by the way it was the Entity Cast. I recognized a few key players, um, Karen who I absolutely adore and, and a handful of others, but that was the company that was entity.  

Raymond is not a part of the company, but he’s one of my favorite dancers in the world. And I just kept telling him, I’m like, you just need to give me that crazy Liza Minelli energy. Like every time just wide-eyed and insane. Yeah.  

Okay. Brilliant reference Liza plus Domino’s guy equals Black Midi Nina McNeely. Okay. So here’s my question though. I’m going to call on two, uh, of my favorite creative types. This might surprise you by the way, Jack Lemmon, honestly, I fancy Shirley McClain, but Jack has this famous saying, he obviously is a comedian to choose the five funniest things that you could possibly do commit to the funniest one and then play it deadly serious. And then David Fincher has a saying something. He, he mentioned about fight club once. He said, fight club is, uh, a film that is about a very deeply serious subject made by deeply unserious people. And I think part of the reason why I was initially attracted to you and your work and am still is because of that intersection of serious silliness. I remember like watching you dance in that big room at Michelle Latimer Dance Academy was like watching someone be possessed. It could be terrifying. It could be beautiful. It was very serious in your execution and in the way that it made me feel, but you were one of the deeply funniest people I have ever met. And I think in your recent work, both are being explored this, this humor. Um, I would love for you to talk a little bit about how humor factors into your process, if it does and where it shows up in the work.  

Yeah. Well, I was going to say, I should have mentioned earlier when I was listing all of the art forms. Um, but absurdist is one that I’m all that’s, what’s missing in the world right now. Nothing’s absurd. Everything’s so serious. They’re like very hard to be funny. Yeah. Instead of just ridiculous, you know what I mean? And I was like, yeah, I, I remember there being a lot more absurdist style work like in the nineties, like in the, even in the music video kind of realm, but I’ve always kind of felt like, I mean, I like extremely tragic and serious and dark things, topics and people, but I think when it takes itself too seriously, it almost like loses the darkness or the seriousness, like, I mean, any good horror film has all of this light, joyful dream-like stuff to create this amazing contrast for when the darkness comes and it makes it more unpredictable and surprising, you know?  

Yes. It unpredictable and surprising that pretty much sums it up, especially for that video. Um, and I think we could be here for a very long time if we were to assess all of your works, even my favorite ones, um, all of your projection mapping feels that way to me. It is extremely dramatic and precise and odd. Um, but I mean, obviously the nature of projection, it feels bright. It feels thoughtful. I wouldn’t say it feels funny. Like nothing about it makes me laugh, but I definitely don’t get the feeling. That’s like this isn’t for you. This is for art people. This is this isn’t for you. This is just for dark people. It feels like I don’t care who watches this because it’s what I think is important.  

And Surprisingly. Yeah. Surprisingly, my work does get laughs sometimes even when it’s a really serious piece, because I think it’s the sort of laugh of like, ha ha ha. How clever of her to do that? Like, there’s sometimes the strange giggle that comes out of the audience. That’s not like, oh, you tickled me. But something about the cleverness like caught me off guard and I have to be like, ah ha! 

We laughed for all sorts of reasons that are not jokes. We laugh when we’re uncomfortable. We laugh when we’re jealous. We laugh when we’re oh yes. I think all sorts of reasons for that.  

I also, I also love madness in general and I love laugh. Laughter can really have that feel it. You know what I mean? Well, that’s why I love Deena Thompson. She can always go to like a pure, that’s why she’s been my muse for so many years. She can just go completely mad in a matter of seconds. You know what I mean? Like when she laughs it’s terrifying, you know, like in a piece or something, because you’re like, fuck what this woman is on, on a good one. Like she’s losing it. I just love, I do love possession and madness. And like, I think I’ve been kind of digging into like what truly inspires me. And I’m, I really think it’s people and psychology even more than dance. Like I, that’s why I’m obsessed with true crime. Every, you know, I’ve watched every cult documentary ever made. I just put like cult new cult documentary, 2021 and YouTube, like everything to make sure I’m keeping up to date.  

That is such a move. Such a strong move.  

I just love that the power that people have over others and the confidence they have in their own bizarro ideas, you know, and I love to how something, I mean, we see this all the time, how something can start great with good intentions with pure intentions and then it can be so easily corrupted with greed, power, all of those things. And I just, I think people are absolutely fascinating.  

Uh, I want to go in seven or eight different directions from there. If we were having a barbecue, we could do that, but I’m going to try to stay streamlined here on the subject of madness specifically. I did not see the film of Climax, but I did see the trailer. I listened to an interview, a podcast that you did. And you talked a lot about the production of the film dance induced, and drug-induced probably both in equal parts mania. And I could only imagine what the behind the scenes of that project looks like, looked like was there a behind the scenes, was there an on and off camera or was that a 24/7 rave? And there happened to be a camera in the room for it.  

I mean the ladder, I, it was pretty like, I mean, just the energy of those style of dancers, like the way that they enjoy themselves as to like put on music and battle, like, you know, like all day, we’d have to be like, you guys need to save your energy. Like the camera’s not even on and you’re going insane.  

Okay. That’s good to know. And that’s what I would, I sensed might be the answer to that. I do want to point out that my first film, my first feature film, I was, uh, I was technically a dancer, but what I was doing was more background material. Toni Basil was the choreographer. The film was Charlie Wilson’s War, Tom Hanks. There’s a hot tub scene. 

Tracy Phillips is in that. 

She is incredible

Shooting her sexy sword dance.

It’s riveting. I it’s, it’s the most memorable part of that movie, other than every single thing, Phillip Seymour Hoffman doesn’t says yes. And the girl in the red dress in the hot tub scene raises hand, kidding will not even recognize me. I’m off on the side somewhere. But in that scene, we were party goers, you know, fancy people hanging out with other fancy people. And we were asked at some point by the director, Mike Nichols, no big deal to go do some cocaine quote over in the corner. And I remember being like Basil, Toni, Toni, I don’t, I don’t know how to do that. I’ve never done. She goes, you’ve never done cocaine. I was like, and was like kind of embarrassed. And then she showed me like how a lady would with her little pinky fingernail. And she just taught me how to do cocaine for a second surreal moment. Um, but there’s a, by the way, I’m not condoning drug use. I am encouraging a broad view of human life and the things that might be a dancer’s job that you never expect it to be your job, by the way. I don’t think you have to do drugs in order to book movies or know how to do drugs in movies is actually very different. But what I’m trying to get to, and when I talked to Reshma about, is dancers being human first, before they are dancers. I think that’s why I love dance actually is because humans do it, not robots, not, um, silks or flags or, I mean, I do think it’s cool sometimes the way trees move, but I like dance because humans do it. Um, the cocaine story was a sidebar. I don’t know how that came up, but actually, well, in climax, you probably did have to be teaching or choreographing behavioral, like conditions. Like the condition of  

I had to make, I had to edit together. Um, cause none of the dancers had done psychedelics before, which my jaw was on the floor. When I found that out, I was like, seriously, all you Europeans, have never dropped any acid or eaten a mushroom damn. Um, so Gaspar is like, we really need to help them because you know, as Gasper and I know not everyone acts the same on that drug. Like he would say like, you know, someone needs to be in heaven. Like the whole night never stops dancing. Is just on cloud nine in their own world. Cause there’s always someone like that at the rave, you know? And then cause at first when we’d be like, okay, you guys are starting to feel the drugs. They started all acting drunk. And we were like, no, no, no, no, no, no, not that, no, not that. So I edited together this horrid, terrifying, uh, video of people on PCP, Flakka, acid threw in some Butoh facial expressions for fun. And this is one where the sky just has all this drool doing that, like primal scream face. And I was like, this is also powerful. Um, but yeah,  Yeah, Yes, this is an option, you know? And like some people really lose themselves on drugs and some seem like they’re barely affected even though perhaps in their mind, they’re going through something crazy. They’re more like still and kind of chill, letting the experience wash over them. So I did have to help them with a lot of that to give like a variety to all of it and not for everyone to just look drunk.  

I think it’s important to point out to people listening who are aspiring choreographers, that there is so much more to this job description than making up cool moves  

Or an eight count. Honestly. Like I always tell upcoming choreographers, like you’re going to be amazed that the amount of times you don’t have to make up a phrase, zero. Not that no, you have to like it’s movement direction or like storytelling or, or composition a still composition with a bunch of bodies. There’s so many, you’re painting a picture a lot of times for film. And it’s not really about the moves. So many things when it comes to like cam the camera and dance that you usually won’t do a phrase because or you do and then they don’t catch any of it  

Or they cut away from it.  

Yeah, exactly. Yeah.  

It’s it is possible that you can love dance intensely and know that it is not the most interesting thing to watch.  

Yeah. That’s why I think I will. I’m always attracted to dancers that are also actors where they can really be human in a moment. Like I think we were talking about this the other day. Like I prefer to just see two people stare at each other and that electricity that happens when two people look at into each other’s eyes over someone doing some long phrase of choreography. Yeah. Yes. I also was going to say like, I’ve always been a huge fan of Pina Bausch because she does praise work, but I love how she’ll just drill it into the ground. And it keeps repeating and repeating there’s something too about like young choreographers always want to make like every count and every move is something new and different, which I used to do also when I was young, you know? And then I started to learn about like the power of repetition and it’s like, once the audience is familiar with something and they know that it’s coming, then they can start thinking about, but what does this movement mean? Or like, what are they going through while they’re doing this movement? You know what I mean?  

So you get to watch emotional trajectory instead of physical trajectory, physical movement in space. The, the idea of repetition has helped me tremendously in my freestyle as well, specifically in a circle or free-styling. I had this made up completely self-imposed notion that everything I did had to be cool and new and look good from all 360 degree angles. And it wasn’t until I started, like, let’s just do a jazz square this whole round. I’m just going to do a jazz square, except for you won’t recognize it as a jazz square. So is power obviously, but also great freedom in repetition. And it directs our eye to something other than the moves, which if you’re a choreographer working in the entertainment industry, it will almost always be moves to serve another purpose. Even if that purpose is make the pop star look desirable, make the pop star look dangerous. Um, explain that these two characters are now in love. I don’t recall ever seeing a breakdown or a treatment that’s like this video is about cool moves.  

No, no, there’s always like a purpose and it’s usually not that. And I also feel like I can always spot a truly good dancer by seeing them on a dance floor at like rave or party and that they don’t feel like they need to do all this impressive phrase, work, freestyle insanity, but they just groove and like let the music wash over them. You know, it is funny when you see all these trained dancers on the dance floor, you’re like, this is embarrassing.  

Yeah. Ironically, that is the thing that is not taught. And I know art people would argue that it can’t be taught. I happen to disagree. I don’t think I was a very funky person for much of my life. I moved to LA fell in love with  fell in love. I, well, I just, I fell in love with street styles and got very lucky in my timing and in my placement and happened to have like in-person influence from some really key people who like were there at the beginning, Toni Basil Popin’ Pete Sugar Pop. I really don’t think I learned how to feel music in a non, like driving in the car headbop type away, like in my whole body, through my fingernails. And in my feet, I didn’t learn that until probably Lockadelic’s class at the old millennium. She taught locking every, I think two times a week maybe. Um, and we did not stop dancing for the hour and a half. There’s no like, okay then the right foot steps on one, let’s go from the top. That’s left on eight, right on like there’s no talking about it. You’re actively dancing for an hour and a half. And that’s how I learned to be funky. So I do think it can be taught, but it is interesting that people who have trained so intensely have such a little awareness of how to do that.  

Yeah. And I, I also think that, you know, at Michelle’s like when I was younger, like I was pretty efficient in both hip hop and contemporary, but always was like obsessed with technique and contemporary ballet. And like, I just was, that was my jam. And so definitely 

I can still see your passe. I can see your freaking posse hips are so square and that’s the highest possible you ever did see,  

But I think it’s interesting. Cause at first, like when I started teaching and choreographing in LA, I did, it was very contemporary and like technical. And then one day I was like, I am denying my Michael Jackson Obsession. Like I’ve kept her in a closet, no pun intended,  

That was funny. 

Uh, for far too long. And as soon as I started, like letting that out more, which I don’t think people maybe recognize how many Michael centric kind of movements there are that I do. I love neck-ograohy and, uh, you know, hands and kind of intricate things that are very much him. Um, that that’s when I started feeling like I was starting to get a little bit of an aesthetic and everything I made, wasn’t like a brand new idea, brand new idea. Like it started to have a little bit of a shape, you know? And so I really just let it in. Yeah, yeah, yeah.  

I don’t have a gentle segway, but I do have a lot that I want to talk to you about. And actually, perhaps this does relate to the signature and what we were talking about earlier, um, being weird or out of the box, and I really want to talk to you because I know this is something that I’ve dealt with in different ways, in different phases of my life. But listeners I’m assuming must have is this notion of popularity and YouTube and Instagram have given this quantifiable number to your reach, your influence and to some people, your value. I would love to hear your thoughts on what is your relationship with popularity and social media in general? I’m just so curious.  

Yeah. When I thought of that question, what is my relationship with popularity? My answer is that I try not to have one. You know, I try all that matters to me is like the pursuit of truth and self-expression, and if that is becomes popular. Cool. And if not, that’s cool too. And if it doesn’t happen until much later, you know, sometimes takes a little time for the world to catch up or whatever. That’s. That’s cool too. I think like you were saying, it’s quantifiable, that’s questionable to me because I think as a working choreographer, sure. Some people might be looking at your Instagram and your followers and stuff, but I think for a true, like for there to be longevity in a career and integrity, it’s a more about your it’s about, are you dependable? Are you easy to work with, do you know how to nurture someone else’s vision? Like those are the things that bring you, keep bringing you back and also  

And those things don’t get a follower account.  

Hell no, no one knows about those. You know? And it’s more about like your relationship with directors and them talking to other directors that are looking for a choreographer and actually most of the time has nothing to do with Social Media or your YouTube. You know, it’s more word of mouth because I think in the entertainment industry, people want to guarantee that they’re going to have someone dependable more than who’s hot right now. You know, because who’s hot right now might not be experienced enough to handle the job. You know what I mean?  

Thank you for sharing that. I think that may come as reassuring or slightly intimidating depending on where the person listening falls on the timeline of their career. I can imagine somebody aspiring to be a choreographer like, well, how do I become dependable if I have not worked yet? How do, how does the word of mouth support me? You know, this chicken/egg conversation.  

I will say though, that what I’ve noticed is it’s about like for a choreographer and I think times are changing. So it’s a little different, but you know, when I was younger, it’s like, there wasn’t any social media you’d have to be like in this group show and even carnival or whatever, but it’s about being prolific and like constantly making and constantly creating and not just being like, here’s me doing my process in my house and my sweats, no, put in the effort, put it on stage, get people there and, and be okay with maybe like being experimental and sometimes making some questionable, you know, the quality is questionable. Like that’s okay. I think before social media, we were so risky and brave because you, no one was going to see it. No one was filming it and you didn’t have like a fucking brand to protect, you know what I mean?  It was like, you could just be really risky and experimental and just go for it. And sometimes like be maybe too experimental and it didn’t work and that’s okay. But I think that’s how you learn, learn yourself. And I feel like with all this editing and filtering and preciousness, like you might be just pigeon holing yourself. Yeah. You’re just putting yourself in even branding. Like you’re putting yourself in a box. Like what if that changes? Like what if one day you wake up and you want to do something totally different? Like then you’re going to feel ashamed that you want to change  

Or no one that you think that you have to rebrand first before you can do that thing.  

Yeah. I think there’s like a lack of flexibility and malleability. Like I’m totally okay with like my opinion changing, my art form changing, like all of that. Like I also get bored easily, you know what I mean? And I just want, I want to keep learning and trying and getting into new things. Like, and I think when you’re really confident, you know, that you will keep making great work. You know what I mean? I think if you really push yourself, you don’t need to be like someone stole my idea. You should be flattered by that. And you should also know that you’re going to have more great ideas. There’s too much preciousness these days. Definitely  

On that thought. No. On one of the thoughts that came right before that, this notion of, of you being able to change your mind. I wonder how tightly, if at all, that relates to your, um, ability and willingness to change your medium as well. You talked about getting bored easily. You are absolutely a person that wears many hats. We’ve talked about your choreography, but, and a little bit of your animation and design skills, but you are also a full-blown editor, creative director, all of these things without having to stop being anyone being any part of the other. But it seems like you allowed your, you gave yourself permission to be a multi person without losing or making it mean something about the other parts of you that you also love and are good at. Is that a fair assessment?  

Yeah. And I think, you know, anyone that wears many hats or is interested in many things might be worried about that, you know, that famous saying jack of all trades master of none, you know, and I, I always worried about that too. Like shit, I should probably just stick to one thing and really master it, you know, instead of always being like spread out like an octopus with my tentacles in so many jars, you know, that’s how I sometimes feel. But you know, like take animating for instance, like I have stopped myself from going into the world of 3D because I feel like it will suck all of my time and my soul and I’ll be obsessed technically with this 3D thing. And because I cut myself off from that, I’ve just keep diving further into like 2D and collage kind of like, you know, the Black Midi videos, like total collage, you know, it’s green screen with backgrounds and stuff that I’ve actually over the years have started to find like an aesthetic in that. Because I think people don’t realize that like how much restraint and restriction like actually opens new doors, you know, and pushes you, it pushes you to just think in a different way. And sometimes it’s good to just put rules on something and see what happens. Cause it forces you to think in a new way. But, um, I would encourage anyone in the realm of dance or choreography to try editing because a basic editor edits so boring for on the floor, you know, on the snare where we’ve been training our whole lives to like push the music, like go againist it. Yeah. Use, use the silence. Like, you know, go where the song might be really fast, but there’s this one underlying slow tone, like dance to that instead. So I think that most, most types in the dance realm would be surprised at how good at editing they are. You know what I mean? And that, and I’ll say to anyone to that, like if you have other things that you’re interested in and you found that you are skilled in them or that you’re really interested enough to like learn the skill, like do it because like, it was such a crazy lesson for a lot of people this past two years during the pandemic, like I had really geared my focus into like touring and live and creative directing for live stage and all this stuff. And then it was just all cut off, over. I was like, dammit, but I was so glad that I have also editing in my pocket and animating, cause I was able to do a bunch of jobs like that during this where I didn’t have to go anywhere. And I was in my own house just being a nerd, you know, for 14 hours a day. Um, but like it’s really helpful. I think it is scary though for most people. Cause they, they think they’re going to be too spread out and not good at all of these many hats, but just kind of mediocre at a bunch of things. So I don’t know. I think it’s powerful. I think if you are really interested in other things, like try it, you know, dance is the most like time consuming art form and it is kind of fleeting in a way, you know what I mean? Like it’s not like a painting. You can take a photograph of a dancer, but it’s not the same. You know what I mean? It’s something to be watched live. And in real time, you know, even like a film of a dance, doesn’t really capture what it feels like to see that live. You know what I mean?  

No, it is fleeting. It is singular. The moment of it happens and then it’s gone.  

And thats the beauty of it too. 

It’s so special. I think I love it. I get really excited by it. I’m really grateful to count myself a person who has experienced that and helps other people to experience that or invites. I think other people do experience that. Um, and I also am a person, as I mentioned before, dance is not the king of my universe. It might be the queen, but people, I think dance is interesting because people don’t get me wrong. I will watch a Boston dynamics, robot dog dance for an hour straight, but I love humanness. And I mean, what is humanness, if not fleeting, changing, we’re mortal, it’s going to stop. So why not? Why not try a thing that interests you? I just, it makes, I understand the fear of not being good. I really do. But the only way you can assure that you will never become good at it is by not trying it

Its good to fail, if you want to be good at anything, you should be failing sometimes. You know, and I think the preciousness that we were talking about is like, you know, the first few things that some of my favorite things I’ve ever directed, just got canned and never saw the light of day. Some, some in some cases the music was never even released just a tragedy, but they know, uh, I had to learn, I think rejection is such a powerful thing for people to experience. And I think right now we’re really sheltering ourselves and the children from it. But I think it’s important. 

By championing inclusivity and things. Yeah.  

Yeah. And I think that is, I think that is a little dangerous. Like it’s cool to not be a part of a community or a group. It’s okay. It’s okay to be a loner. Like if we know anything about history, it’s that those loners created the best poetry, the best artwork, philosophies, all of these things. And that I think if everybody’s included, what is the art of the future going to look like? I’m a little scared, you know, I don’t  

Think about let’s talk about it.  

Yeah. I don’t think people should be just bullying kids left and right or anything. You know, I think we have to be gentle with each other. Absolutely. But I think it’s okay to not fit in and to not be popular that might actually really build some character and a unique voice. Like I, I try to not be like seduced by trends. You know, it’s very hard these days because they’re all over the place and they’re in your face 

And they’re designed to be so seductive.

Right. And, and the, like this desire to be relevant again in the eye of the beholder, what does relevance even mean? You know what I mean? Does it mean that you’re getting 500 emojis a day from people? What does that, we know what happened to like conversation, phone calls? Like I’m sad that things, social media sometimes reduces our connection instead of increasing it. Like, we really think that like, oh, it’s so cool. How we’re all connected. I’m like, yeah, but you just watched something that I put so much of my heart into and you replied with a smiley with star eyes. I’m getting nothing from that. You know what I mean?  

This is my philosophy. I believe that connection is a feeling and you can feel connected to someone through a two dimensional screen. Um, and if I can feel connected to you here, I can feel connected to you anywhere. I don’t think we have to be talking in person to feel connected. That said I would much prefer to be hanging out at your house right now. And I would much prefer to see your work in person, opposed to watching it on YouTube. Um, and, and the preciousness of knowing that it’s about to be gone versus this ‘Oh, I’ll just hit replay and I’ll watch it again.’ I there’s pleasure. I get pleasure from both because I can binge watch a thing. I have probably watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy 25 times the extended editions. And so I’m like, I love the availability to really go in on something. Um, but I digress. So that’s another direction I want to go with this.  

I think I was going to say it’s more even like the difference between a text message and a phone conversation and a face to face conversation. You know what I mean, where they’re cool that we’re connected, but the electricity that happens between face-to-face like in a face-to-face conversation there, nothing compares to that. I don’t think, I mean, and unfortunately we’re in a situation where we can’t do as much of that, but I even mean like a phone call, you know, hearing someone’s voice and feeling their energy and feeling their tone and all of that stuff.  

And, and, and understanding, pause and silence. Um, I, this is something that I got to know very intimately during my vocal cord recovery, and we all have different ideas about what silence means culturally, personally. Um, and I think that really is hard to detect through texts. Um, so interesting. I, I wanna dig into really quick counterculture. I want to share a reference. A reference is there’s an article that my husband shared with me in document journal by a woman called Caroline Busta. I think I am saying that, right. I hope I’m saying that, right. It is called the internet did not kill counterculture. You just won’t find it on Instagram. 

Exactly!

And she writes, and I love this. I wanted to share this quote to be truly counter-cultural in a time of tech hegemony. One has to above all betray the platform, which may come in the form of betraying or divesting from your personal public online self. And I think it’s so true. This article has a lot of like peak insights and talk about old punk old, you know, underground type of art. Um, I’ll send you this article, Nina. I’ll put it in the show notes, but you know, when you, what year did you get to LA?  

2001.  

Okay. And you talked about creating work for clubs, where, what were these shows? Who, who was going to them? Like what was underground then? And what is it now?  

Wow, interesting you bring that up because I did see, I’ve been kind of running into old homeys from that time. And I saw one the other day that I was like, oh my God. Remember when we did that cheerleading number and you guys threw me like two stories in the air and I almost shat my pants and yeah. And it was like, and it started with like a pollical ribbon dance. And he was like, yeah, but were you in the version with like the spaghetti and the kiddie pools where like rough the spaghetti all over ourselves? And I was like, no, but what the fuck happened? Like we fucking go in, so bizarre. So ridiculous. Like, it was all about props, like, okay, we’re going to fucking dip our face in Elmer’s glue. And then in this bowl of sequence, boom, look change, you know, or like, whatever, like we just used to do nutso stuff or like I bought the super high powered fan from home Depot, shout out to home Depot. They don’t know how much they have supported dancers club performances and careers.  

I do not test me. I will come back with a sponsorship or endorsement deal.  Um, everybody’s addidas except for us just solid orange home Depot.  

Yeah. Well, for club wise, God, and I just saw some homies last night that we were like, you guys, we know I’ve known each other for like 14 years, like from when we were babies in these club environments at these raves and stuff, but like one of the most prevalent was Mustache Mondays, um, uh, Nacho Nava who rest in power, um, really started a whole counter-culture world in downtown LA when downtown LA was like gross and scary and no one wanted to be there. Um, and Marlon Pelayo, and I did a lot of duets over the years, some good, some horrible, but we always showed up, you know, and it was on a Monday night, Monday night. Yes. And it was weekly, not even monthly. We were all there at one point, maybe in like 2006 or something, there was something every night, there was also a party called Shits and Giggles. Um, that was in this huge space with like a balcony, like weird, like a gorgeous theater that we just did the most rowdy rug rat crap you’ve ever seen. And then, uh, Ryan, Heffington also had a show called fingered, which is incredible. That was a monthly, there was different themes, like back to school, fingered back to school, like a monster themed one or whatever. And Ryan, I mean, it’s so incredible. And also doesn’t take himself too seriously. There’s so many funny numbers he’d make all of our costumes we’d rehearsed in his house. Like it was incredible. Um, but yeah, we just used to do a lot, like every time someone’s like, oh, we need performers for this. And it was, we’d get like a hundred bucks, you know what I mean? And we’d use that mostly for materials and to like get some cheap wine after. But, uh, but yeah. And also, yeah, we didn’t need money to do shit back then either. Like, he’d be like, perfect. You’re going to come out of this cardboard box and like, yeah, me and Marlon did to duet once where I came out of a cardboard box, there’s a bag of Cheerios. That’s prop. I, my costume was like a little kid’s Rambo costume with like the bullets or two of those just duct tape pastries. I believe not very healthy, but, um, we just, we just went crazy and we, like I said, like sometimes there’s no one there, you know? And we were like, well, I guess we’re still going to just wear our heart on our sleeve and go, go the fuck in, even though there’s 10 people here, you know, but we learned so much from that. And also it was kind of cool to be like, oh, well, if you weren’t there, you missed it. You know, that was kind of like how you could be in. You have to know, you know, and you had to like, and you know, you couldn’t see it anywhere. And if you missed it, you missed it. Also there’s something to be said about when I first came to LA and started doing more like group shows that, you know, we’re not like in, that were in theaters and not in clubs. We’d get written up, uh, by the Dance Critic in the LA times, every time you did the live performance, like what incredible, where they, he was, what’s his name? Lewis Segal. He was so mean, but brilliant. He’d be like, this is a scatter shot of ideas. It makes no sense. I mean, you’d be like, oh, like you were actually getting critique. Cause I think that’s something also missing. Like, everyone’s like, oh my God, I love your stuff. It’s great. And I’m all I need some haters. Where are the people that are like, I hate how you always do this boring witchy, troll crap. Like I wish you would, you know, I’m so sick of seeing this. I feel like you can get a little bit of that on YouTube.  

A little bit of that.  

I don’t know who said this, but like, if you don’t have any haters, somebody lying  

Or you, or you’re not doing something, right.  

Yeah. Or you’re not pushing yourself. Right. You’re staying in something safe or whatever. So I don’t know. 

All right, everybody go out there and get yourself some haters. That’s it for me, Nina and me, my mom is going to be so pissed. I do that wrong all the time. Nina and I, no, Nina and me, shit. I don’t know. Um, okay. This is, this has been lovely. I love this insight. I think you’re brilliant. I am just shouting your praises forever, but yo, if you want me to tell you that your shit is awful, I will tell you that. I don’t believe that it’s true, but I’ll say, uh, that’s very, that’s a very, um, LA thing to do. Like, wait, what do you want me to be to you? What do you want me to say? But, um, it’s not an LA thing. No, it’s a people pleaser thing. It’s uh, I grew up being a dancer thing. Really, really aiming to please. Yes. Um, okay. Here’s how I would like to finish. Speaking of, I grew up a dancer, we both grew up in Colorado and I want to play a quick little round of how do you know you’re from Colorado burnout, round of super questions. Are you ready for that? Yes. They’re going to come so fast. Okay. How often do you wash your car?  

Just got a new one. Just got a new car, covered in dust.  

Yeah. Yes. The answer is like almost never.  

Yeah, almost never. And I think I need a shamwow. Well, I need to order one of those, I can just use the hose at my house and spray her down.  

Um, everybody listening is probably thinking, well, not everybody listening. People who listen often are probably thinking of me fondly. I have a carwash across the street from my house. And as a person who has a podcast, that can be a tremendous challenge. I have, I hate them. Number one. And even when I liked them, when they were a hand carwash before they got the screeching eels of vacuum death, before that, I still never got my car wash and it was literally in my front yard. So 

I do love the experience of going through the old school carwash with the flipping flap. It really feels like you’re going into a different dimension.  

And when you do that, don’t you feel like you’re seven.  

Yeah I love watching videos of kids going through them. Screaming How they terrified  

You’re in the mouth of a beast and it’s got multiple good esophagus is a soft guy and tone 

Its the birthing experience all over again 

Too soon, too soon. Give me out. Okay. Were so much for rapid fire. Um, how do you get the ice off your windshield when you’re going to school senior year, let’s call it that  

The scrape, a small enough hole that you can see through it with one eye  

With what? With, what do you scrape?  

Uh, it’s usually like a glove contraption, a little scrapey do at the end of it.  

I usually, I don’t know how I would always be misplacing the scrape dues. I have used CDs. I have used my school ID. I have like taken off, taken off a shoe and stood sock foot. Okay. Good. Good. Don’t check, check, check. Um, what are Rocky mountain oysters?  

Uh, those are, uh, bull balls. Yes.  

Testicles.

Testes. I’ve actually never really tried those and I’m pretty adventurous with food.

The next time we go back home and do that. Okay. Final question. 

Yeah set a date for balls.  

Hot balls date done. Uh, what is the name of the theme park in Denver? 

Elitch Gardens. 

Yes. Only a tourist would call it six flags. Congratulations. You passed your from Colorado. 

It was an actual garden. You remember the old one with the white, with the white rollercoaster. That was, yeah, that would rattle your brain because it was so old.  

Terrible, terrible. They probably called it the brain scrambler. It was called the twister.  

Yeah, the twister. Yes.  

Wow. Good job. Okay. Um, all right. Final thoughts. This is how I would like to wrap it up as your PR uh, unofficial PR person. I strongly encourage everybody listening to go check out Nina’s website. I genuinely think that being there is more fun than going to a movie. It is more thrilling than going to a haunted house. It is the best of both of those worlds. Please go visit her work and get lost. Um, and we’ll see you later. Just go get lost for a while. Enjoy yourself. Um, I think the world of you, thank you so much for being here. 

I love you so much, so much  

Bye! 

There you have it. My friend, I hope you learned a lot from Nina. I always have, and I get the feeling I always will. I loved what she had to say about social media and the way it has changed our bravery in art. I loved what she had to say about preciousness and the impermanence of live dance. Oh man. The takeaways from this one, the list is long. I hope that after listening to this episode, you’re ready to think outside the box experiment, be bold. And of course keep it funky. I will talk to you soon. Bye

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating and review because your words move me too. Number two, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops and so much more. All right. That’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #92 Questions That Move Me. Answers That Guide You.

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #92 Questions That Move Me. Answers That Guide You.
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In this Q&A episode I get to tackle questions from listeners that span the spectrum from technical to philosophical.  I share the best advice I’ve ever gotten (from David Frickin Fincher), and I talk about some outstanding gigs!  I tell you about the race and dance history programs/ resources that have been game changers to me, I outline my mental health regimine, AND talk about “that talk” that you get to have with your potential agent.  This episode is rich thanks to YOU and your questions!  Keep em coming, and keep it funky!

Quick Links:
Join the WTMMCOMM: thedanawilson.com/wtmmcomm

In The Heights Choreo Team Episode: https://www.thedanawilson.com/podcast/ep-78-ith

Karida Griffith’s R3D Race and Dance History: https://karidagriffith.com/history/

Moncell Durden’s Intangible Roots: https://www.moncelldurden.com/onlinecourse

Passion Fruit Seeds by Passion Fruit Dance Company: https://newyorklivearts.org/artist/passion-fruit-dance-company/

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. 

Well, Hey there. Good day. Hello. Hi. Welcome to Words that Move me. I’m Dana. I am stoked you are here and I’m stoked to be hitting you with a Q and A episode today. It’s been a while since I did this, um, and times are changing and the things that you want to know are changing too. I got some really great Qs submitted when I put my, ask me anything out there on Instagram, and I am a very excited to A them. But first let’s celebrate. I start every episode with wins because I think it’s important to celebrate what is going well. And today I have a lot to celebrate, but I can not get over this one. When this past Sunday, I went on a morning beach walk with my husband, AKA vice chief, our favorite beache is Dockweiler, um, because the planes from LAX fly directly overhead, and you can light stuff on fire there, which very, very much appeals to Vice Chief. Now, I don’t recall actually how long we walked for. Uh, but there was one moment, one moment in particular, that was very special that I would like to celebrate because this moment a plane, uh, uh, like jumbo freight plane, like not a passenger plane. One of those fancy FedEx types flew overhead. It was a very overcast morning and the sound seemed to be bouncing off of all of the surrounding clouds. The sound from overhead was coming from more places than where my eyes saw the plane. And it was just so unusual to feel this multi-directional really deep and loud rumbling coming from above me. And then watching this jumbo jet disappear into a white sky was ridiculous. So that’s happening up above my head. And then below my feet, a wave came like gently about up to my shins, like were not even shin really. I would say upper ankle, like where you do a frappe from, and that cold water took the sand from under my feet. So I was having this up above sensation and below my toes sensation. And my body felt sandwiched between these senses and it was really remarkable. And I know it maybe sounds simple or silly, but I felt so small in that moment. Um, but also so big in my ability to feel so it was a special moment. I wanted to put a pin in that and celebrate it out loud. So there you go. Good job life. Great job ocean. Thank you, Dockweiler I love you, Daniel. That is my win. Now you go, what’s going well in your world. Any sensational experiences to claim as wins, bring it. Let’s go  

Sweet. Congratulations. Let’s keep winning together. And let’s certainly keep up with these sensational experiences. And let’s also dig into these Qs. Um, I got so many Qs, actually. Qs are questions, PS, um, and quite a few personal ones, actually. So even though I do have a pretty good, ‘how did you meet your husband’ story? And dare I say, and even better engagement story. I think for time sake, I’ll filter for the career slash industry slash make stuff related questions, which I promise are no less exciting. They also include true love. So get ready, get set. And let’s dig in. 

The first question is what is the best advice you would give to an aspiring dance teacher?  

Two parter. You guys know me very hard to get one answer out of me. You almost always get two. Number one, and this is something I’m, I’m still very much learning for myself. You don’t have to teach it all at once. Not every day needs to have all of the things. Not every lesson needs to teach everything from every angle. It can’t. And in fact, if that is your approach, this feeling, this desire to give it all all the time, it actually can be really difficult to process that amount of information coming from those many different directions. I know this to be true because I have been a student in my voice therapy as of late and too many things, too many ways of thinking too many modes or schools of thought on any one thing can be really overwhelming, especially to a beginner. So, um, yeah, that I would say, I think my best teachers have showed restraint and calculated timing regarding when they teach what things and when certain things get introduced. So there’s that. And then there’s this, I believe it was my favorite artist of all time of all planets in this universe or any other, the one and only Tom Sachs that said “Every time you teach something is an opportunity to understand it, deeper yourself.” Okay. That speaks to me on two different levels. Number one, this quote lifelong learner level. Yes, I do believe in being a student forever and that really great students make really great teachers and vice versa, but I think it’s really important to keep learning, not just the things that you don’t know, not just to be seeking new knowledge, but to keep learning the things you already know to learn them deeper. Maybe even so deeply that you come to question them and might even change your mind about what you believed to be true about them. There is an exciting journey and a very good example in that I think it’s a good example to set, to always be learning, to always be questioning. And of course, to always be knolling get into it. Um, okay. Moving on. 

What are some of the ways you have educated yourself on racism in dance? Yes. I love this question. One of the ways I have done this is through virtual workshops. Karida Griffith. Holy smokes is a saint, um, Karisa offers an incredible six week course that offers age-appropriate fact-based lessons about race and dance history. The program is called R3D, R Three D, which stands for roots, rhythm, race, and dance. So that’s easy to remember and we’ll definitely link to that program. In the show notes of this episode, she also offers a free training series that I 10 out of 10 would recommend, especially if you teach, tap, hip hop or other forms that stem from the African diaspora, which is damn near all forms of dance for the record. Um, let’s see. Also in 2020, I participated in Moncell Durden’s Intangible roots workshop. Moncell was also a guest on the podcast I’ll link to that episode and to intangible routes. Um, I also took the Passion Fruit Seeds workshop, a virtual workshop organized by Passion Fruit Dance Company. Let’s see, um, this year a little more recently, I started reading a book called A little Devil in America notes in praise of black performance by Hanif Abdurraqib. And I really recommend this book 10 out of 10 stars, all available stars. Um, but I think another thing that’s really important to mention an area of personal development that I probably don’t mention as much is simply having conversations, talking to people with different lived experience than mine. Um, and these are mostly conversations that happen off the air, not on the podcast and not broadcast conversations. And I think that’s really important. Um, I would love to close out this question by asking all of you the same question because, um, I know I am just scratching the surface in my personal work on this subject. So I would love to know what am I missing. Um, if you’ve experienced breakthrough educational moments on the subject of racism and dance, I would love to hear about it. Any programs, any conversations, any resources, please bring them my way. Um, perhaps the best way to do that is on Instagram. You can tag me in a post at words that move me podcast or a direct message. I’m open to that as well. Whereas the movie podcast and or I am DanaDaners on the gram, uh, let’s keep moving forward. 

This is one of my favorite questions and it also broke my heart. Are you still a mime at heart? Oh yes, of course I am. Um, and this broke my heart a little bit because I am a mime at heart more than in body. And that makes me sad because, you know, basically I simply don’t practice. My body has not been miming for a very long time, but I believe that a mime at heart and in art makes the invisible visible. And perhaps I am flattering myself by saying this, but I believe that’s what I do. It is certainly something I enjoy to do is to give something that doesn’t have a form, a form shape structure feeling. Um, so thank you for this question. I think it’s reminded me of what I love most about mime and perhaps might even move me to be miming in the very near future. Maybe even today, who knows fine. I’ll put it on the calendar. I’m going to put it on it’s going on the calendar next week. I will be miming. 

Next question. Ooh, what job stretched you the most as a dancer slash as a human? Hmm. I think these might be two different answers. Is that okay? You know, me two answers for everything. The job that stretched me most as a dancer would undeniably be my first world tour with Mr. Justin Timberlake. That was the Future Sex Love Show. I was 20 when we started working on that show, I was also Marty Kudelka’s assistant at that time. And Marty was the co creative director and the choreographer of that show. It was my first world tour and I was jumping and do a big, super steep learning curve. Um, you know, those like end of the world disaster movies where the big wave comes and crushes the city of San Francisco or something like that. That was the learning that I did on that job. I learned about performance. I learned about mechanics. I learned about show structure, song, structure, um, how to work and collaborate as part of a team, how to take direction, how to follow through, I mean, you name it. I learned it or at least started learning it on that job. So thank you, JT. Thank you, Marty, for bringing me on in that role. Um, and thank you also to all of the dancers I was on the road with. I learned so much from each of you, Nanci Anderson, Michelle Martinez, Eddie Morales,, Ava Bernstein, Mitchell, lovey shout out Tammy Fey, longtime friend. And of course Marty Kudelka himself. Um, we also for a moment had had the pleasure of our swing joining us at the time the swing was Kenny Wormwald. Um, I am always learning from all of you all and just think so fondly of that time, steep learning curve, super challenging, super worth all of it. Now, the job that changed me most as a human I would say is probably working as an associate choreographer on in the Heights. If you haven’t already listened to the episode. Um, the podcast that I did with the rest of the choreography team, Christopher Scott, Eddie Torres Jr, Princess Serrano, Ebony Williams, and Emilio Dosal, joined by our fabulous choreo team assistant Meghan Mcferran all of us in a zoom room, hashing it out. That was so much fun. So if you want to hear more about the ways I changed as a human on that gig, listen to that full episode, cause you’ll get all that and more, but I’ll say, you know, to wrap it up kind of loosely, that I became a more compassionate creator on that project, compassionate towards myself and my process and towards the group of people I was working with and helping to represent on a big screen. It was completely transformative, that experience. So, um, big love to my In the Heights team and also to my JT family, huge, huge learning and progress. Thanks to all of you. 

Okay. Um, Ooh, here’s a good one. Do I have any advice for starting new stages of life? Well, yes, I’ve got like 90 episodes worth. Um, but I’ll say this in, in kind of in keeping with this stage theme in a very tight answer to a very big question. I think my best advice for starting new stages of life is to find your light. Does it need to be a spotlight? It could be a soft light, but find your light. This might mean bringing it with you, finding a thought that can serve as your own personal lighting technician follow spot, if you will, that can follow you and keep you illuminated and illuminating. This is the secret. 

Next question. And I love this one so much too. What is the biggest thing that you learned about yourself as a mover through the pandemic? What is the biggest thing you learned about yourself as a mover through the pandemic? Frighteningly enough, I think it’s that the thing I love most about dance is dancers. Once people stopped being a part of the dance equation, I liked doing it less and I did it less. And I think that that’s okay. I really do think my biggest takeaway was that I love dancers, um, and little teaser here in next week’s episode, I am joined by one of my greatest inspirations, a dear friend and mega monster epic creator, super powerhouse megaforce Nina McNeely. Nina will be joining me on the podcast. And we talk a little bit about exactly that. So do turn it turn in. Oh, that’s cool. I should start saying that turn in to next week’s episode. Like chaine turn or little triplet turn. You can do an inside turn. You could do a fouette turn. You could do a, any kind of turn, just turn in next week, but don’t, but also be turning out, turn out next week too, but also, I mean, turn in, I’m here for it.  Wow. We’re back. I love movers and I learned it in the pandemic. I did get to a place where I was dancing more. It’s possible that I danced more during the pandemic than I did the year before. Um, mm, no year before was In the Heights. No, no way I danced more. Um, but I did get to a place where I enjoyed dancing alone in my dining room, but, uh, yeah, that was it. That’s the takeaway. I love movers. 

Okay. Next question. How do you maintain good mental health? This is a big question. And I think there are a lot of ways to do this. My favorite way. I think the most useful way, the most effective way is by managing my mind. And I talk about mind management a lot on the podcast. What I mean when I say that is that I, I try my best to sift through the facts of the world, the neutral unchangeable circumstances that happen in day-to-day life. And I try to remain conscious and in control of what I think about those facts, the facts of the world. Um, I try to be deliberate about how I respond and, um, that is, is really my number one practice for maintaining good mental health is by separating my thoughts from the facts and remembering how much agency I have over my experience of the world. Um, that is a big one. 

Next question. What is the best advice you ever received? Ooh, um, people live given me life advice and pretty profound stuff. I think a lot of it shows up here on the podcast, but I don’t know if I’ve talked about this one moment and it struck me like these words of wisdom speared me like straight through the sternum sternum, spear pierced my ever loving being. And, um, these words came to me on set one day on set for Justin Timberlake’s Suit and Tie music video, which was directed by David Fincher. I was assisting Marty Kudelka and I remember what I was wearing. I remember my shoes weren’t that comfortable. I remember bustling around being really busying myself, trying to be as effective as possible, trying to be useful, trying to be in more places than one at once. And I remember David turning to me at one point pretty cold. I mean, I do think he’s a warm person, but this, this moment in that he looked at me felt pretty cool on the temperature spectrum. He said, can I give you some advice? And I like every muscle in my body contracted and I respond, yes, of course. I’m like searching for my notebook, please. What is w what is this advice? And he said, and I don’t know if these were, if he was the first person to speak these words, but this is how these words came to me. He said from the comfort of his director’s chair, never stand when you can sit and never sit when you can lie down. And in this one moment, I knew that I was doing too much, uh, much too much. And, um, I’ve reminded myself and other people of that onset so often never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lay down. Thank you, David Fincher, for those words and for your incredible body of work. Thank you so much for, for all of it. 

Um, okay. We push onward moving straight ahead. Ooh, tough one. Okay. How do we, as a community shift our mindset from believing or from viewing, sorry, from viewing styles hierarchically to equally, how do we as a community shift our mindset from viewing styles hierarchically to equally? So there’s this built-in assumption in a lot of institutions and in the public perception that not all the answers created equal, that there is good dance and there’s bad dance and there’s meaningful dance, and there is not meaningful dance and or valuable dance or less valuable dance.  And, um, to this question, I will, I will suggest a starting point. I think that we shift our mindset a similar way that we shift our weight. And that is first by thinking I am going to shift my weight. Um, and then of course, by doing it, I think I will shift my weight to my left foot. I start by moving my hip. I then move my knee. And then, um, all of a sudden bringing my weight off of my right foot in a way from the microphone onto my left foot. But I started by thinking I would like to shift my weight and then I do it one tiny micro adjustment at a time. I think that’s how an individual shifts their mindset. And I think that that’s how a community must shift their mindset as well. And that is starting with individuals. I think communities are made up of individuals. So if an individual decides I would like to shift my mindset and then they shift their mindset and then they converse with other individuals, perhaps encourage other individuals to shift their mindset as well. That is how big change happens with small adjustments. 

Okay. Moving forward. Where are we? Uh, ha uh, Michelle Latimer dance academy, alumni shows up in the Q and A nice, super shout out Michelle. Oh, you have to come on the podcast. This is going to happen. Okay. An MLDA alum asks what was LA like when I moved there. And I think I might have to do a full podcast episode on exactly this like a walk down memory lane. It was awesome. It was different. And it was the same as it is now. It was all of that. It was awesome. It was awful. I, my apartment had cockroaches. I totaled my car and my first year out here, it was hot. There was great dance class. There were parties. I mean, it was a ball. It was, it was awesome. We’re going to put that in a parking lot and come back to it for sure. 

Okay. This last question was not submitted on the gram, but I have had two friends reach out in the last month. Hi, Lena. Hi, Courtney. Asking if I have any advice for agency interviews, like what do you do? And what do you say when an agency shows interest and you set up an interview and you really, really, really don’t want to mess it up now? I don’t think my two friends are alone in this. So I will share the advice that I gave to them. And that is this most people when sitting on the other side of the zoom screen or on the other side of a table, from an agent or, or a potential employer, if we want to zoom out and consider all professional interviews, um, most people really get caught up in trying to sell themselves in this particular instance where you are looking for an agent’s representation. Remember that this relationship goes both ways. You want to walk away feeling like you just got the best car on the lot. And so do they, so ask them questions, ask about the features of their business, know that you are great and find out how great they are. Also, if you don’t already know, try to find out who will be in that meeting. You’ve probably heard the saying, know your audience. I think in this case, and in many cases, it’s very helpful to a few more things, ask questions in general. I think questions are good, especially questions that reveal how much, you know, not how much you don’t know. You might ask. For example, how many castings are going out for people with your look and skillset? You could ask what commission they take my guess is that it’s 10%. It should be. If it’s higher, you might ask why you could ask them to explain their ideal client. Oh, and you should probably be prepared with what you do not like about your current situation, especially if your current situation includes an agent. I think it’s really important to let people know what works well for you and what you’re looking for. Have an idea of the work that you want to be doing. Have a few names in mind of people that you’d like to work with. Absolutely know your strengths and areas in which you would like to improve and be yourself. Isn’t that just the pits. When tell you to do that, when you’re like, what’s the answer? How do I do this? Right? And they’re like, by being yourself and you’re like, dang, what have I been doing for 25 years? How do I not know how to be myself? You do. You do know how to be yourself. You’ve been doing it for a long time. And I’m telling you right now, yourself is enough. Sit down, be a human talk to a human, be yourself and find out who they are. And if it is a good fit, it will fit. And it will be if it isn’t, that doesn’t mean you’re bad. Just keep on trucking. All right. My friends, I thought we’d finished this episode out with a burnout round. Um, these are the short and fast questions that came through the Q and A that actually really made me giggle and kind of have deep thoughts. Um, but I tried to not answer them until this moment. I want to really truly give the visceral response here. So in this moment, favorite dance move, uh, pas de bourses, least favorite dance move, easy. One C jump hate them. Never can’t won’t don’t want to ever do that step ever again. How many combos have I done?  Oh, God hundreds, hundreds and hunt maybe is 1500, two thousand?. 1500? Maybe. I don’t know, but I do know that every time I get in the car and drive to a destination that is more than five minutes away. I hear a song that I have either danced to or choreographed to do. So that’s that? Oh, and PS these are mostly all these in classic rock radio stations. So take that for what it’s worth. Okay. Favorite movie. Ooh, impossible. But it would be the Lord of the Rings trilogy. If you let me pick three favorite show right now and why easy Ted Lasso, because it is evidence that you don’t have to be manipulative to be great. And that obscure musical theater references make life better. Um, okay. Final question. What is moving me right now? The answer to that question right now is time.  I have got to go. I’m late for a grill and, um, I love you all so much. Thank you for your thoughtful questions. Keep them coming. And of course, keep it funky. Ooh, wait, wait, wait. One more thing.

This is important. We are making the first ever words that move me community production. It is a film. It is called Eight counts. Subtitle. The words that movie, thanks for the subtitle. Courtney Darlington, super shout out. Um, and if you want to be a part of making this movie, which is a community collaboration made by the words that move me community members, then you’ve got to join the community. Um, the community is a subscription membership. I will link to the membership website in the show notes to this episode, whoa. In the show notes website, webisode time, Dana breathe. I’ve got time. Where was I? Membership website will be in the show notes.  Um, memberships start as low as $3 per month. But if you ask me the real value comes with the top tiers, I’ll be totally honest. Y’all it is not about making a movie together. That is going to be so fun. This is about information and support so that you can be making work that you really want to be doing. Now we can do that work together and we can do that work apart. You can continue listening to the podcast. This is great, but to be a part of this collaborative film making process, you do need to be a member of the community. Um, if you join now in the month of October and don’t like it, if you’re like, Nope, this is not for me. This is not the value I was looking for. I will give you your money back. Yep. All of it.  Well, all of it that you gave to me for this membership, I do not have the funds to give you all of your money back from all of the things for all of the time. But I believe in the community. I love what we are doing. I love all of you community members. Um, and if, if you are not part of the wisdom com please do join us. I think you will love it. And I’m excited to see you over there. Link in the show notes, see you soon. Um, now you can go keep it funky. Talk to you later. 

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating and review because your words move me too. Number two, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops and so much more. All right. That’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #91 The Club- Are You In or Are You Out?

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #91 The Club- Are You In or Are You Out?
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This may be the first time we really dig into the subject of status and power dynamics on the podcast! FUN!!!  In this episode,  insiders and outsiders are under the microscope, and we approach the subject from the position of moving into a new role or industry AND I’ll point out how this power dynamic can shift during the course of ONE audition , or pitch meeting.  I hope that after listening to this episode, you focus less on meeting the dress code/ getting on the guest list/ paying the cover.  I hope this inspires you to become the VIP that you are and make the work that others want to be in on.

Quick Links:

Re Listen to Episode 75 with Smac: https://www.thedanawilson.com/podcast/ep-75-being-creative-idiots-with-smac-mccreanor

Transcription:

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 friend. Welcome to Words that Move Me. I’m Dana. I am so glad that you are here. Um, if you have been listening to these episodes in chronological order, then, you know, I spent some time at home in Colorado recently, and while I was there, I got to cash in on some way overdue quality time with my nieces, seven and almost four years old. And holy smokes, they’re the most special we got to play and cook and, um, watch some movies. Why is it now when I’m trying to make this sound beautiful and interesting that I cannot recall a single artful or exciting thing that we did. Everything we did was artful and exciting, including watch a couple of movies targeted towards their age bracket. One of them was Bigfoot Family. Don’t know if you’ve heard of this film, Bigfoot family and Mitchell’s versus machines. I can’t recall if it was Mitchell’s versus machines or Mitchell’s versus The machines. I actually did not double-check the titles of said films before stepping into the booth. But I do know, and I can tell you that the heroes of these films, both of them are young people with the capacity to edit video. These two heroes are like fully in their cartoon world editing in cartoon premiere pro, and they’re like dragging and dropping effects and adding the star wipe and adding, you know, like doing premiere pro, like I’m looking at the premiere pro timeline, but I’m looking at a cartoon. It was wild. I’m just kind of marveling at that because the heroes of the movies that I watched growing up spent time in malls, like at the mall and the heroes of these films spend time in premiere pro. It was fascinating me so way to go people, making family content and normalizing, making things over consuming things. Um, perhaps this isn’t a deliberate thing. Perhaps they did some market testing and found that, Hey, you know what, everybody, between 12 and 16 is a content creator these days. So we’re just making where the audience is wanting is possible, but it was just, I was moved by that. So hats off, good job people making family content. I should really be going to get on that. Definitely going to get on that. Anyways, I digress, while watching Mitchell’s versus machines, the machines, whatever it is we’re going to call it M versus M the lead character, a teenage girl on her way into film school says I’ve always felt a little different than everyone else. So I did what any other outsider would do and made weird art. And that reminded me of a topic that I have been meaning to dig into on the podcast. And that is the notion of insiders and outsiders. We’re going to save the notion of quote, weird and weird art. For another time today, we are talking about status. We’ll talk about that from the position of moving into a new role or industry. And I will point out how this power dynamic can shift during the course of one audition or pitch meeting or treatment. I think this is the first time I’ve really addressed status and like this type of power dynamic on the podcast. And I am thrilled to dive in, but first wins. Hey, today I am celebrating such a massive win. My friend, oh, I am still smiling about this one. Just chuckling here, standing alone by myself. My win is that I was invited to the Quest Crew family Dimsum a few days ago. I had a play date scheduled with, uh, our dear friend Smac from episoode question, mark, wait for it.  Yes. Episode 75, confirmed. And Smac’s boyfriend Ryan is a member of quest crew. And so Smac extended the invitation in my direction to join the quest crew as their first ever special guest at a family brunch. I called it brunch, which is basically dim sum for the record. This was my first experience with dim sum. And my first experience with quest grew as a unit in one sitting, we can call it a sitting cause we were sitting down for the most part, the actual win, the win-win, the big win of this was that we had a group share a one by one, share. Everybody had everybody at the table, stood up one at a time and had to contribute a kindness in my direction, a kind sentence or two about me. And that sentence had to be danced in the vocabulary of my favorite style, which is locking to make matters more interesting, certainly more laughable. We were not able to repeat moves. Now there are 11 people at the table and, um, barely more than 11 moves in the vocabulary of locking. I am grossly overstating obviously, but I mean, you got your wrist roll. You got your Sam Point, you got your, uh, Stop and Go. You got your Scooby-Doo, you got your School Bot. You got what else? We got, obviously, an Up lock. You got your lock lock. You’ve got, I mean, I’m going to hate myself later, but I think like, I think I’m out, right? So 11 people making up little solo, kindnesses, kindness dances, and throwing them in my direction. Um, I had to throw one at myself too, which just imagine what that looks like all in the middle of a dim sum. Whoa, dim sum restaurant in Alhambra best dimsum of my life. And that’s not just because it was the only, but simply because it was the best I am floored. I’m still smiling. Now you go talk to me about the kind of dance exchanges in your world. Tell me what’s going well, what have you eaten that you loved? You could even celebrate a win after having eaten something that you don’t love. And now you know that you don’t love that. And that can be a win as well. I know it’s kind of a stretch, but you know, I’m just, I’m extending that kindness to you. You can put that as a win. They’re willing to bet. You know what? I digress. Roll the music.  

Congratulations. I am so happy for you and I am so chatty, I suppose my win should have been huge successes with my voice pathologist who has been helping me tremendously. I think I could get better about breathing more and talking less with that said before we get into the episode, I need to make not one but two prefaces. Prefaces number one, the word cool will be used a lot. In this episode, you may experience semantic satiation, shout out Ted lasso. A semantic satiation is when a word is used so much that it begins to lose its meaning. Cool. Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool. I actually think it would be very interesting to live in a world where cool has no meaning. I’m giving you this warning because if you happen to be listening to this episode at a party, which you might and you are of legal age, you might choose to play a drinking game and have a, a sip or a shot. Anytime you hear the word cool. You might even decide to have a party just so that you can do that. I support you, but I would prefer that you do something more productive, like maybe 10 push-ups or crunches or stanzas of poetry every time I say cool. Um, or you could simply listen and let cool wash away into meaninglessness. That’s preface number one. Preface number two is that I don’t actually believe that there is a quote unquote cool kids club. I don’t believe there is any single inner sanctum of people in the entertainment industry. I don’t even think that there are many cool kid clubs. I simply think people like to work with their friends, people that you know, people that you know, you have shared values with and people whose way of operating is similar to your own. That said for the next several minutes, I will be talking about clubs, the cool kids club. And I’m just telling you right now, before I do that, that I don’t think they exist. However, this metaphor, this thought in my head might be a useful device. I really hope that it is true story. This is not a third preface, by the way, this is just an intermission before the first act. I do not love clubs, never have. Even in my prime club going age, I did not like going to clubs. I would much prefer a house party, a barbecue, any place with a loud boombox play in the jams that doesn’t involve, like number one, a cover charge, number two, a line to get in, number three, like bass that is so low. I can feel it in my knee caps, um, or a dress code. So there that’s, I think that’s probably pretty much, oh, also like a $13 drink. That’s watered down. Not a fan.So Bing, Bing, which is big bang, bang. I don’t like clubs moving right along into the first act. If the cool kids club was actually a club, you would probably find yourself waiting in a line to get in. You would probably wind up paying a cover unless you’re on some sort of list. You might possibly make your way to a VIP section. And then if all goes, well, eventually you go home. You go to bed and you wake up the next day in this analogy, in this metaphor, I’m going to start by making a comparison between the rules and cost of entry to this club, to the rules and cost of entry to quote unquote, the industry or like the cool kids part of the industry.  I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I have witnessed in certain circles. It is truly as simple as wearing cool sneakers or simply having cool stuff to be welcomed in to the inner sanctum. The, the king of cool might actually talk to you because you’re wearing cool shoes or have a cool watch or you’re driving a cool car or using a cool purse or in my case, a cool backpack. Dammit. I love good backpack. And if you have a good, if you have a good backpack, chances are, I will talk to you about it. I’m not saying I’m the king of cool. Let’s back up. Do I actually think this is cool? Do I think it’s cool that you, you might evaluate someone’s worth or worthiness based on material possessions? Do I condone this type of behavior? No. Duh, not really. No, but have I seen it happen?  Yes. Have I considered actually paying the cost of cool sneakers or a watch or you know, something else material simply to ease my way in? Yes, absolutely. Is that wrong? No, I don’t think so. I think it’s, I think it’s neutral and sometimes it’s worth the cost of sneakers to have a zero friction entry point to the people and places that are interesting to you. However, I will say this buying the cool shoes, car, watch backpack, house, yacht. I think you see where I’m going with. This is a very slippery and costly slope. It’s a slippery slope. It’s an in slippery slope that very well may lead you to an unhappy life at, at worst at best. Maybe walking around in shoes that aren’t that comfortable. Let’s put the metaphor aside. You can look the part into the club, but I don’t know that that’s do you see how I said metaphor side? You can look the part and get in to get into the group or to get into conversation, but looking the part won’t last. If you don’t love it, if you can’t afford it and if you can’t live that way, right? Can you imagine having to abide by a dress code for the rest of your life? Hm, no. Thank you. No, thank you. Now let’s consider the guests list. Shall we? It’s possible that even without meeting the dress code and without paying a cover, you could get into a club simply by being on the list or being someone’s plus one. Now this part of the analogy is pretty self-explanatory entry by association or cool by association. Many of you have already benefited from this. I sure as hell know I have. Can you think of a time you got in somewhere on someone else’s arm, so to speak, or have you ever helped others to get in? How do you do that? What does that look like for you? And how do you feel when that happens? What is actually happening there? Are you grateful? Are you gracious? Are you extending a kindness? It’s something to think about that. I find fascinating. So on the, on the entry point, sometimes it’s being on the list.  

Sometimes it’s looking the part, but most of the time getting in comes down to paying the cover in real clubs. This is usually money, but in the metaphor, the cost of entry to me is either information or skill or both. And you’ll probably not get in without one or both of those, two things, information and skill. And that is what I want to talk about. That’s what I want to remind you of. That’s what I want to remind myself of. I think many people forget what they have to offer. They think the club is there to offer them something fun, access, excess, but the club would be nothing without people in it. In real life, people think that the in crowd, the top, you know, working person in their field can offer them something. Maybe it’s fun. Maybe it’s more access, usually it’s work. And that is what people focus on instead of focusing on what they, the outsider can offer the in crowd.  When I first made my way to LA and began my professional training. Yeah. I’ll call it professional training, like training to be a professional dancer versus training to be a good dancer. I think those are different things. I knew what I could offer in the character department. I knew what I could offer in the skill department, pretty broad, but general training in many different styles. Very good with counts, quick learner, great memory. I knew I was reliable. I knew I was sober. I wouldn’t be hung over or strung out. I knew I was at very least a little bit funny and a lot, a bit friendly. So I led with those qualities and I think those are the qualities that got my foot into the door, or like the entryway, like up to the coat check of this club, this metaphorical club. And then eventually I made it my job to really have information insights and like Intel straight up intelligence that other people didn’t have to remember things that other people didn’t remember to expose myself to things that other people didn’t expose themselves to. This means cross training. This means cross culturing. That might be in misuse of that word. And I think in the long game, it’s those qualities and skills that are probably what got me into the metaphorical VIP section. And what I’m learning now is that from both sides of that red rope, the grass is greener. On the other side, the inside of a VIP section looks a lot like any other corner of the club, except for usually there’s less room there. There’s people doing stuff. There’s a red rope around them. They look out into the masses at the movement, drawn to certain things, looking for certain things, looking at talented people, looking for entertainment, looking for beauty. Now the metaphor might get a little bit unsavory here, but I do think that that’s more or less what happens from inside the VIP. We look out on the other side, there’s people looking in wondering who’s there. How, how are they very important people what’s really going on in there anyways, what I’d like to hypothesize and someday prove is that anything you can do inside a VIP section, you can also do outside of a VIP section. I’d like to further extend that hypothesis to say anything you can do in the club, you can do outside the club. Do you see where I’m going with this? You can feel important. You can feel exclusive. You can do all of that with more space from outside, outside the red rope and outside the club walls, you can have fun. You can dance. You can network. You do not have to be in the cool club. And certainly not in the VIP section to make moves, to enjoy yourself. You can really truly feel important, feel exclusive and feel good about yourself with more space from outside. Here’s another interesting thing about the red rope. You have to leave the roped off area at some point to get anywhere else. You have to leave that VIP section to go pee, to get a drink that isn’t vodka and orange juice or cranberry juice. That’s sitting on your table to get fresh air. You have to leave the very important person place. And then what, once you’re outside of the red rope, are you only a minorly important person, a slightly important person, a regular person, hysterical to me that a person’s value would be determined by the placement of a red rope or a red wall. If I were to broaden that statement to include the dance sphere, the red rope, the inside or outside the club does not determine your importance unless you think it does. Let’s keep moving through this club analogy. We’re almost on the other side. I promise. Think about the day after you went to the club, you probably wore heels. Everyone listening probably wears heels to the club. Um, your feet probably hurt. You may be feeling hung over, but how do you feel? How do you feel the day after going to a club or a big event even do you feel awesome because you enjoyed yourself? Do you feel awesome because you had proximity to someone you think is special or famous or very important, do you feel awful because of lack of sleep or overindulgence in something, do you feel awful because perhaps you compromised a personal value to fit in or to get in true story. I have judged myself for pretending to enjoy myself at clubs. I have secretly hated on myself for singing along to lyrics of songs that I don’t like. And for dancing to music that I don’t like, I’ll be real. I have judged myself for judging the DJ. Where is this going? Sometimes? What looks like fun is not actually what’s happening. The person that you are looking at on the other side of that red rope is possibly dare. I say, probably punishing themselves in some way, moral of the story is you can punish yourself or praise yourself from inside the VIP, from outside the VIP or from outside the club entirely. And the beautiful news is that you get to decide, you get to decide if being in there is important to you. You get to decide how much you pay to get in. Or if you pay to get in, you can decide that meeting a dress code is totally okay with you. You can decide on committing to that now and changing your mind about that later.  This is simply another way to think about the in crowd to think about what you’re willing to exchange to get in and to think about how much power you have from outside. Now, I want to talk about this notion, this, this idea of power in the power dynamic in inside versus outside. You probably are assuming that the insider has more power and you’re probably right in most cases. So I want to talk not about that, but about this moment, this very, very quick moment, when that power dynamic switches, this happens in almost every successful audition or pitch, or even in making a treatment when asked to pitch or make a treatment for something or audition for something.  There is someone else who gets to decide whether you are allowed in to the job or not. There is an insider and you, the subject, the auditioner, the pitcher are outside trying to get in, but something beautiful can happen during an audition, during a pitch while making a treatment. And that is the shift where the outsider convinces the insider, that they are, what the insider wants to be in on that they are the person that can help the insider create an inside world that makes outsiders drool. And so within one hour, within one meeting within one PDF, an outsider who knows how to introduce themself, a person who knows how to inspire someone and a person who knows how to reassure someone. Those people have in, in my view, even more power than an insider because they are both. They are a person who is outside enough to see from a 30,000 foot perspective, not from a tiny confined space behind a red velvet rope, but from way out there, they can see they can operate freely.  They can move quickly. They don’t need to be stifled by the rules of the club. They have the ability to begin to switch or to remain the outsider. They have the best of both worlds, cheers, to being an outsider who can inspire the insiders to be more like outsiders. I now, now insider and outsider. Those are starting to lose their meaning. You know, it’s a great way to demystify a topic. Just have a podcast where you say nothing, except the topic like insider outsider, insider outsider, insider outsider, and then the topic will have lost meaning. And therefore, uh, the audience will have lost interest. I’m sorry if I lost you. Wrap it up Wilson. I hope that after listening to this podcast, you have less interest in meeting the dress code, getting on a guest list or paying the cover and more interest in knowing so deeply that what you do is incredible.  Whether it’s looked at, from the inside or from the outside, remember that the grass is always greener. Those inside the rope are looking outside. I hope that this episode has also reminded you that there is a generation of very young and assumingly capable young batch of artists on the come up. So let us not be concerned about whether or not we are in or out of the cool club and let us be concerned with our work, with our skills and with the information that we seek and the information that we share with that. My dear friends, I bid you ado, I’m going to go hit the club. Kidding. Not funny June is that it? But I said it there. I’m just going to let it rest. Really. I probably won’t see a club probably for the rest of the year. Maybe if you get me to a club, congratulations, there better be live music.  That’s all I’m saying. Get out into the world, get into a club somewhere, the club, your club. I really, I get myself into a hole. I just dig and dig, trying to make these wrap-ups. And here’s what I’m just, I’m just going to say it. Keep it funky. I mean it, oh, and holy smokes. How have I made it all the way through an episode where I say the club this many times and not mention the only club I remember enjoying myself in thoroughly deeply into the wee hours of the morning. FunkBox New York. I miss you. I miss you so much. I, you know what? I would buy a ticket to New York just to go to funk box. I said it, it might happen. Now. You have it. That is my word. That is my word funkbox. I’ll see you soon. Funky people. I’ll talk to you later bye!

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating and review because your words move me too. Number two, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops and so much more. All right. That’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #90 You Don’t Have to Do It Alone… But You Probably Do Need to Simplify

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #90 You Don’t Have to Do It Alone… But You Probably Do Need to Simplify
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In this episode, I talk about why many creative people feel the need to take on the world by themselves… Then, I hand out all of my favorite ways to do more by NOT doing it alone.  The key is to simplify.  It really is that simple. Not EASY, but SIMPLE. 

Quick Links:

Wyzant and Lynda.com <- for general Tutoring).
I’ll ask obvious but GOOD questions
Contest fines or enrollment fees: https://donotpay.com/ My tailor in the valley: Master Shoe Repair

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 and welcome. I’m Dana. This is words that move me. Welcome to the podcast. How are you? I am stoked that you are here. Thank you so much for being here. I am exceptionally jazzed on last week’s episode. Thank you all so much for your feedback and for loving Reshma Gajjar as much as I do. Wow. That was a good one. Um, if you haven’t already go give that a, a swoop swoop was the first word that came to my head, swoop that out and enjoy.  Um, all right, today I am talking directly to myself and also to you, but I think I really need to hear this right now. So there’s a chance that you do too. I remember finding at some point during the lockdown, a love for simple life, simple pleasures, simple, but not easy tasks and so on and so on. And you know what? Life is so sneaky. I feel like it has crept up and all of the sudden I’m over committed. Again. I am overwhelmed again, and I’m like, what? I swear I already figured this out. I have already learned how to be productive and calm, motivated, and relaxed, focused, and feeling free. I swear I have done this work already, but apparently it is not at the forefront. So I’m going to stand myself in front of this microphone and re-do re-learn. Remind myself of some of the work that I have already done about simplifying my life. I’m excited to do that for myself. And I’m excited to share some of my favorite tips and tricks for simplifying. What can seem like a very complicated life in a very complex world. Uh, but first wins. Yes. I have like a grand slam of wins today. So get ready. Sports references are not my thing, but you know what? I’m going to run with it. Okay. First one is that I’ve been watching a lot of maybe too much Ted Lasso. We’ll talk about it later. Here’s what I’m really celebrating today. I’m celebrating a visit back home to Colorado and spending some safe and quality time with my family. My beautiful family. Ugh. Shout out Aunties, Uncles, Maya, my brother, my sister, my brother and sister in law. The nieces. Oh, Swoon my dance teacher, the one and only Michelle Latimer. The one and only Chelsea Latimer, AKA my best friend since we were tiny, tiny tots and Chelsea’s daughter, Sunny, double swoon. Um, oh, and also our guest from episode 70, Erika Morri. So in general, shout out Colorado. I love that place. I loved my time there. I made a peach jam. You guys with peaches from my sisters peach tree. Um, it rained. It was gorgeous. Oh. And I did an art project with my mom. Shout out, Stan, stay tuned for more on the art project and yeah. Um, back to top the wins off, Mr. Ted Lasso watched a lot of that. Um, which is probably why my wins list is so long wink, wink. Um, if you are not watching Ted Lasso 10 out of 10 would recommend, okay, I’ll stop there. Ted lasso winning. Now you go, what’s going well in your world.  


Awesome. Rock on. Congratulations. I’m so proud of you. Please keep winning all, keep coaching. I will stop with the Ted Lasso references eventually. Um, but here’s, here’s what we’re going to talk about today. Somewhere along the way, somebody, some very clever someone wrote and sold the story of the self-made man. They made this story about this person that climbed from the bottom to the top, all by their lonesome, the story of rags to riches, and we all bought it. We bought it in hardcover. We read it every night before we go to bed. We are so subscribed to the story. And now that I think about it, I’m thinking that it was probably the same person that bottled and sold the virtue of the one man band, um, that we drink, like it’s water. And I am just rocked by how deeply I believe. And I’m sure so many of us believe and might not even be aware of the thinking that we should be able to succeed on our own. That’s what I want to talk about today because lately I’m starting to disagree. I really am. But I see it all over the place in my friends and myself and people I work with. I see us showing ourselves evidence of other people who’ve done it. We’re always talking about the people who are self-made or who did it themselves. And we hold them on a pedestal. We think it’s virtuous. We think either that I could never do that. We just look at them and reserve that story. Just for them. We think that I’m not talented or determined or financially backed enough. Like I’m not wealthy enough. I don’t have what it takes in terms of like time, talent team money, um, or worse. We think I know exactly what I need to do. I have everything I need to do it. I’m just not doing it. Woof. We just aren’t doing it because we think I don’t have time. I have other commitments. I have to wait for something else to happen first. Or maybe I could save myself all that work and someone else could just reach out and offer me some help or someone higher up the food chain might just reach out to me, take me under their wing and teach me all of their wisdoms. I could just, you know, leapfrog this whole hard work and managing my mind bit. Well, I hate to break it to you, but big name working people. The ones that you are looking up to right now are likely not going to come knock on your door and offer their time to help you figure your stuff out. Time itself will not outstretch its metaphorical hand. It will not extend itself for you. It will not stretch itself for you. Nobody is going to gift you time to work on your career. You have to gift it to yourself and you don’t have to do that alone. Let’s talk about it. On the subject of time, the slippery little sucker, it gets full of things that are important to us. And sometimes things that are not important to us, but pretend to be important to us. And then all of a sudden, another month has gone by another year, has gone by the year, is coming to a close and you might be feeling no closer to accomplishing your goal than you were back in January. When you set it for your new year, new me moment. I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve been in and out of there actually several times, but I want to, before I, you know, help you get out of there, I want to point out why there is actually not the worst. There isn’t so bad. There is probably going to happen. I think our creative lives kind of happen in cycles. Very, very productive modes, rest recovery, inspiration, modes, learning modes, sharing modes, all sorts of different kind of, you know, ebbs and flows of a creative life. It’s really, nothing is wrong with that. Unless you are thinking that something’s wrong with that. We add insult to injury of not accomplishing our goals. When we let our lack of progress, slow us down. Even further. We blame time. We blame other people for taking up our time and we blame people who have time or resources for not offering those to us. And of course we blame ourselves for simply not getting down to business. What we are doing is beating ourselves up.  We’re down on the mat, wrestling with our circumstances and our thoughts about ourselves saying, I should be X or I should be doing Y and I’m not, which makes me bad, not good, not able to fix this hopeless unworthy. And then we don’t get help because we feel unworthy. 

So here in lies, the problem and here comes the truth. If you weren’t getting the results that you want, it likely isn’t because you don’t have time or don’t have determination. It’s because something else is missing because if you already had everything you needed, if you already had everything it takes in terms of tools, skills, et cetera, you would already have the results that you want. If it were true that you could do it yourself, you would have done it. You don’t need a different body. You don’t need more discipline. You don’t need more time. What you need is to evaluate the ways in which you are spending your time. And I know this is a strong word, but I’m going to say it wasting time. You need to evaluate the ways and the reasons for which you are wasting time. The reasons in which you are wasting time, the wasting you need to evaluate is the time wasting. For example, let’s evaluate more. I pick up my phone and scroll because I think I deserve a break. And I think I have a few minutes to spare, but then a few minutes turns into much, much more and boom, wasted time. I waste time in the mornings because I think I can get away with less time. So I hit that snooze button. I hit that snooze button again and again and again.  Boom. I think I can get away with less. And therefore I have less wasted time. How about this one? I watch another episode of Ted Lasso because I think that I have to, I think it is so good. I have to keep watching. I don’t. In fact, when I keep watching it, I get to the end and I wish I hadn’t binged it because now it’s over. There’s no more left. Tier 1 time wasted. Here’s another one. It might be me. Might be, you might be both of us. I go shopping. I go shopping for all the things I go shopping for groceries. Totally not scheduled. Just whenever I’m feeling like. I think the thing that I need is out there in the world instead of in my head, that’s when I go shopping and I will shop for anything, mind you, but the feeling that I don’t have, what it takes or I don’t have the thing I need instead of being met by managing my mind is met by me, going out into the world and looking for something and then paying for something.  Usually something that I don’t need. Holy smokes, time wasted and occasionally money wasted. And I do those things with full consciousness. It’s not like I black out, like there’s a moment. Although usually a very quick moment where I decide to waste time. I commit to it like, oh my goodness happens a lot, but I’m getting better at it. I’m getting better at recognizing when it’s about to happen. And I’m getting better at clearing those hurdles versus running into them, just running into them, full speed and then collapsing on the floor. So cheers. I, I, I truly am getting better at this. And I know so many of you are too, so many of you who I get to work with in the words that move me community, come to me saying things like I know better or intellectually. I know what I need to do, but I just don’t feel ready like in my gut or I know I can do it. I just haven’t a lot of this conversation comes up this knowing what we should do technically theoretically, you know, hypothetically from the critically, um, I digress. I digress sounds wow. Somebody’s glad to be talking again anyways, we’re back. 

All of that knowing, but not doing or hypothesizing, but not testing. That’s all happening because knowledge, knowing what you should do in should (in quotes) do on its own will not get you the results that you want. You have to apply that knowledge. You have to stop beating yourself up with the shoulds and the shouldn’ts. Instead, remind yourself that becoming the person you want to be will require, require experimentation, exploration, evaluation, re evaluation, correction, and probably some overcorrection. If you’re a dancer. And if you want to do that all on your own, you absolutely can. But you can also find support. You can find a peer, a partner, a community, a group of people with a similar focus and hunger for doing the work. Of course you can find an agent, a manager, a person who knows things and applies knowledge about things that you don’t yet have. Oh man, I highly recommend getting to know some producers, people who understand project management find a coach or a mentor, find yourself a Ted Lasso and then get to work. And if you are listening to this, that means you have access to all of that. So come and get it. 

But first I will give you right now. You don’t even have to come and get anything, just sit right there and I will donate. I will gift. I will give gladly a few of my favorite ways that I do more by not doing it alone. When I catch myself feeling confused or thinking, I don’t know, dot dot, dot, fill in the blank. I hollered at my friend, Google, which I know most of us have gotten in good practice of, but I do not simply Google the subject that I am looking for. I Google the subject plus blog or podcast or expert witness or book or consultant. That is how you weed out the 16 year old YouTubers who in general are there to practice their video, making skills, not to help you. They might even be there to make money. That’s fine too. They might be there to be exercising their new, what is the word I’m looking for? I don’t know why they’re there, but for some reason, when I searched for things, the first seven results that show up are a very young person showing off their fancy tutorial skills. Um, not necessarily the experts in the field. So that is tip number one, Google plus blog podcast, expert witness book consultant. That is a good jumping off point. If that doesn’t solve the case, I’ll hire someone who can I love. And it was not paid to tell you that I love Lynda.com That’s where I learned to edit in Premier Pro is where I’ve learned. So, so, so many things. Um, I hear that wyzant.com, W Y Z A N T is also great for general tutoring. If you don’t know how to teach yourself, ask someone else to teach you. Speaking of asking, this brings me to point number three, ask obvious, but good questions. I’m going to link to our words that move me podcast episode about how to ask good questions. What I really want to underline is that asking questions is a good thing. Even the obvious ones. If you can ask them in a way that shows how much you know, not how much you don’t know.  

And finally, when I catch myself feeling confused, thinking all the, I don’t knows, I stop talking too much. I stop myself from talking too much by saying, I don’t have an opinion on that right now. What do you think? And then I listen. Those are my pointers for dealing with confusion. Now let’s talk about overwhelm when I feel overwhelmed, because I’m probably thinking I don’t have time. I’ll stop wasting it. I’ll stop reaching for my phone. I’ll delegate to my lovely, lovely team. Shout out Riley Higgins, shout out Malia Baker, or I’ll reach out to apps like Task Rabbit, fancy hands I hear is helpful. Um, oh, and this one is important. I’ll stop over committing. And I won’t lie about why I can’t do things. I really think that’s important. And I know there are probably a lot of people pleasers out there who might think it’s easier to lie about why they can not commit than to just explain the truth. And I will tell you something very reassuring. It is possible to tell the truth and to still be kind, give it a try. Here’s another one that’s been cropping up lately, perhaps it’s because I’m on the tail end of recovery from surgery, perhaps it’s because the world is quote, picking back up. I mean, for how long have we been saying that now? I don’t know what it is. That’s making me think that well, I do actually, it’s my brain. That’s making me think that, that I am outgunned, that I am outnumbered or that I don’t have what it takes when I hear those thoughts start cropping up. I immediately, but gently remind myself of my strengths and my skills. I don’t just think about them. I don’t just write them down. I use them. And then with my new found self confidence and willingness, I’ll ask for things I’ll ask for help or ask for a raise. I’ll ask for an upgrade. I’ll ask for a coupon. I’ll ask for better terms. I’ll ask for therapy. I’ll ask for romance. I’ll ask for things. This is huge. I think you’ll find that you’re way more likely to get things that you ask for than the things that you secretly wish someone would give you.  

Ooh, speaking of super secret, super resource www.donotpay.com This is the website that will help you contest fines or enrollment fees. Did you even know that existed, that exists? You’re welcome. Do not pay.com. They also do not pay me to say this, but they claim to be the world’s first robot, lawyer. This is how you can cut through the tape, beat the bureaucracy and find hidden money by not paying money for things that you don’t need to. So there’s that work? Here’s the other one big, big fan of this one. Stop wasting money on things I already have, for example, Hm, coffee and clothes. Those foes jumped to my mind. I will instead drink the coffee that I already have, and I’ll give the clothes that I already have a new life by maybe modifying them. I used to do this in high school. You guys, all the time, the thrift store dates were so real and so romantic, by the way, I love a thrift store date.  Um, and then it would get all my stuff home and immediately take to it with scissors and bleach add like leather straps. And, oh, this was high school. I can still do that. I can still find that joy, that pleasure in repairing or otherwise altering items that I’ve had for a while then maybe don’t fit very well. Um, or that have taken two, looking, not like a million bucks and moved them up into looking a little bit more like a million bucks, so much fun. Please do send me photos of this. If you take that advice, I want to see what you do. Also, if you are in the Los Angeles area in the valley, I would like to recommend my tailor who is on Burbank somewhere. Hold on, wait for it guys. I’m the pits. I was not prepared with that information today. Um, but it will add in the show notes, the name of my favorite alterations place in the valley. So good. So honest, very reasonable, very fast. Get into getting your stuff to fit you. It’s the best. Okay. I think we’ve covered all of it. Lastly, I will say this to simplify my life. My biggest plan is to stop saying that I should be able to do it alone. And to simply start simplifying simplified does not mean take on the world by yourself. It might mean delegate. It might mean outsource. It might mean cancel. It might mean say no. It might mean scheduling your binge-watch of Ted Lasso so that you can feel great about sticking to the schedule instead of simply clearing your entire life, um, unannounced and committing to eight hours in front of the television. Holy smokes, that actually happened. So when you wrap up this episode, when you get to where you’re going today, when you have a moment, make a quick list of the ways that you can simplify your life.  And before I let you go, I simply must remind you that I am one of the ways you can simplify your life. I offer coaching and tools that help you manage your time, your money, your mind. Well, literally everything falls under that category. So that’s, we’ll just stop right there. Awesome. The words that move me community is a membership that has formed in support of the podcast and in support of creative life. And it is an excellent resource. I really, really hope that if this episode spoke to you, you take a look into it. I adore everyone that I work with there. Um, we have some exciting projects coming up as well within the community, like internal exclusive stuff. So I urge you come check that out. TheDanawilson.com/wtmmcomm

affectionately referred to as WTMMCOMM. Um, yeah, this is just, it’s such a great place to team up to get that swift kick in the buns that you need, or maybe that gentle boost that you need. Um, a whole, whole lot of good things. So hope to see you there. And I hope that I, Hmm, here we go. Here’s the segway that I was looking for. I hope I see you there and I hope you keep it funky. Yes. Way to bring it home. Wilson when I’m calm, keep it funky. Anything else? Oh yeah. Simplifying might mean that doing less means you can do more. So go on and get at that. I’ll talk to soon. 

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating and review because your words move me too. Number two, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops and so much more. All right. That’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #89 Where Natural Meets Magical with Reshma Gajjar

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #89 Where Natural Meets Magical with Reshma Gajjar
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Reshma Gajjar had to be my first interview back after vocal cord surgery no doubt about it.  In this episode, Reshma and I discuss the importance of humanness in dance and how silence and meditation can help to achieve it.  She also speaks about how stepping away from dance helped her change her definition of success, and how her ethnicity has both helped and hurt her at different times in an ever changing industry.  As the entertainment industry changes, one thing is clear: Reshma will always show up, and she’ll show up directly in the center of the venn diagram that represents all things natural, and all things magical.

Quick Links:

Reshma Gajjar: https://www.reshmagajjar.com/ https://www.instagram.com/reshmagajjar/

Another Day of Sun (La La Land Opening Scene): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVVqlm8Fq3Y

Inheritance Bombay to LA (Reshma’s Vintage Shop):  https://www.instagram.com/inheritancebombaytola/

“Work Song” by Hozier: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nH7bjV0Q_44

Kenzo: https://youtu.be/RR-DkUzNdUw?t=539

Guided Meditation:
https://hansavedas.org/


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: Hey Friend, how are you doing? I’m so glad you’re here. I’m so glad to be talking to you with my six weeks post vocal cord surgery, voice, I’m learning so much about breadth and pitch and modulation and in general, not misusing my voice and I’m excited to be practicing with you here today. I’m even more excited to share my conversation with this week’s guest, but first wins this week. I am celebrating that. I got, I bought, I bought myself a record player. Yeah, vinyl let’s go. I’m so excited about this in my silent recovery, I spent a lot of time appreciating music and experiencing sound with great focus, tremendous focus. So this desire for a record player didn’t necessarily come from wanting the unique sound that a record player and vinyl records actually produce, but rather wanting to not lose focus. Every time I click through Spotify or iTunes on my devices in general, I find that one click leads to three clicks, which all of a sudden becomes 30 minutes of standing at my machine, my laptop, or my desktop, or, or hovering over my phone. While I scrub and in general, get distracted when the goal was simply to listen to music. So now with my record player, I dropped the needle. I drop into what I’m hearing. I drop into my body, the end hands-off ears on body glides into the zone. I am obsessed with this. It has many favorite thing. That is my win, my record player. Now you go, what’s going well in your world. What is spinning your world around? See what I did there. I’ll be patient, hit me. Congratulations. I am stoked for you. Keep winning, keep spinning, and then find yourself some stillness because today’s guest is both a riot and a rock, which I guess makes her a rockstar. Maybe I would call her a rockstar. Yes, she is solid. She is fluid. And in this episode she shares some golden insights that I think will help you to unlock a humanity in your art. We discuss subtlety. We discuss silence and the guiding principles that have led her through a most incredible career that just keeps going and going and going and going and getting more interesting and getting more. Awesome. I will stop there and I’ll start introducing you to the lovely Reshma Gajjar. Oh, and that reminds me, make sure you listen to the very end of this interview because her name is well, actually, I’ll just let you wait and find out for yourself. Enjoy this conversation with Reshma. 

Dana: Holy smokes. Reshma my friend. Welcome to the podcast. Hi.  

Reshma: Hi. Oh my God. I get to hear your voice. This is so such an honor to hear your new voice. Be one of the first  

Dana: You are the first podcast interview 

Reshma: To interact with the voice! 

Yes. How do you feel about that? 

Reshma: So I’m so like I’m flattered. I can’t believe that I was the one that you wanted to speak to first.  

There is no other one I’ve been wanting to speak to you since the day of the surgery. Um, and, and, and all the days before actually, um, we’re, we’re going to get into all of the reasons why this is the perfect first interview with my new voice. Um, but first, first, first, will you please introduce yourself? I think that everyone listening should know you, but they may not. So this is the part, the hard part where I ask you to tell us anything you want us to know about you. That could be bullets off the resume. It could be your favorite color. Um, but I’ll, I’ll let you drive what cha you got.  

Okay. I am a first generation American. I am of South Asian, Indian descent. Born from two immigrant, cute parents. Um, I’m a performing artist. I’m a collaborator. I started my career as a tour dancer touring with pop stars. And then I moved into working in the industry. And now, um, I dance and also act in films, television commercials, music videos. I also love art and being immersed in the art world side of things. When the opposite of commercial industry, I love being part of the art industry. And so I also participate and perform live performances with like companies or immersive interactive theater. Um, I love fashion. So I like doing shoots and fashion films. During the pandemic, I started a tiny little shop in my backyard called Inheritance Bombay to LA which Dana contributed to. 

Um, couple pieces. Yes.  

Beautiful pieces with great stories.  

Well, actually explain, explain this shop. I know what the shop is. What are you selling in this shop?  

I sell stories and I, so, um, vintage second-hand loved clothing curated by me. I’m a meditator. I’m a fan of old people. Um, I’m a Muppet and I’m currently also officially a filmmaker.  

I am celebrating you so big and so hard. All of those elements of you are some of my favorite elements to find in humans. Um, and think you embody them all in a beautiful ratio. Um, do you know what did today? 

What?

I watched the opening scene of La La Land 

Was coincidental or 

No, no, that was deliberate. I, I was preparing I I’m a big fan of you. And if you do not know Reshma you actually do because you’ve seen La La Land guaranteed If you’re listening to this podcast. Um, and Reshma is the introduction. She is the introduction to the introduction of the highway scene, uh, that we call traffic, um, Another Day of Sun and I watched it this morning and I cried because number one, all of, I mean, not all, but so many of my favorite people, I had honestly sort of forgotten you set it off so beautifully, so naturally. And I feel summer heat when I look at you do that performance, but I also feel really cool. I’m like, oh, I’m with the cool girl. I’m going to be fine. Um, but then you’re joined by Hunter and then you’re joined by DMO  And then rejoined by Jillian, Michael comes out, Liz Imperio comes out. I mean, Nathan Prevost who was just my on-camera husband and 

Mecca Cindra 

Dom Chaiduang

Stephanie

Oh my God. This list is long, this list is long. And the shot was also long. The shoot was long, it was long. And this is brilliant. I could talk about La La land for a long time. I’m not going to, but I am going to talk about how grateful I am to have shared professional space with you. Um, La La land was the first time I think that we worked together also Hosiers Work Song choreographed by Jillian Myers. And don’t, you dare forget that Kinzo short film   

I will never forget  

Choreographed by Megan Lawson and looks were so on point on point 100%, be sharing some photos. Um, but that’s absolutely the tip of the iceberg. In terms of your work, you mentioned you toured for pop stars, including Madonna. Um, you are in a few of my favorite movie musical dance scenes, 500 days of summer, which I also watched recently American beauty. 

Oh My God. Oh my god. 

So all that to say you have a career that I think anyone, but especially my listeners would envy. And this is a podcast about creative careers. So will you, um, start us off or continuous us off, I should say by sharing some of maybe the guiding principles that have helped you make your moves, the, the, the ideas, the lessons that have helped you navigate your career.  

So I find that I found that in my career, the thing that I knew that was really important to me is that I wanted, well, one I wanted to work, right. And in the beginning it was really challenging for me to work. It was very challenging because, um, I can only assume it was, um, how I looked and I don’t, I don’t think that the industry was fully receiving people of color of, of my ethnicity and the, our stories weren’t being told. So we weren’t part of the narrative. And, and even though, uh, dance jobs can be diverse. I was like the most ethnic and maybe a little too exotic. So there was a long period of time where, when I came to LA and started auditioning that I found challenged, I was very challenged in working. And, um, one of the first things that I realized was I was defining my success on work. And that was the first thing that I realized. I was like, oh, this is, this is a little bit a recipe for suffering and disaster. So I, um, after having a moment where I like quit and moved to India and gave everything up, um, to, uh, do social work and give back because I was like, wow, this job, this career path is so it’s all about the self. And I’m like, I can’t do that. I have to, I have to, I have to do something outside of myself and like, let go of all of, all of these things that were like causing me to one, not like the craft that I had trained my whole life doing because the business aspect was getting in the way the not working part. And, um, so I like totally let it go. I gave it up. And, um, in that process, that whole journey, I realized that I needed to define my own own, like my own definitions of success had to make my own definitions of success. So to me, that meant that I am a performer. I am all the things that I am if I’m doing that thing. So it doesn’t matter if I’m working and making money doing it. I can work at a coffee shop. That’s fine. As long as I am in class every day, working on the craft, loving this thing that I love so much to do. And so that was a first thing that I did. And when I let it go and went back to the basics, I think that’s when, um, things really shifted around me too. And I think that also was, um, something showed up was timing that as much as you can, like really work towards something. And I am a hard worker, I really believe in being a hard worker. There’s a level of professionalism that I really believe in and hard being hardworking is one that like, um, I really abide by, but that can get exhausting sometimes. And then you can question like doing all this hard work and like nothing’s coming out of it. And like, what I found is the work is never lost. There’s just this really magical thing called timing that like lines up and you don’t have control over that. And so there’s like, that doesn’t mean you don’t work hard. You still put in the hard work, but you let it go and you allow for the timing to happen, which is what happened. As soon as I define my success, I changed my, my outlook. It happened to be, I didn’t do this, but the world was also shifting in a way and it all kind of lined up. And then I started working like suddenly, like Madonna was like one of the first people who like hired me. I mean, there were others who hired me before that, but big job because of my ethnicity. And like, it was this whole, like this interesting thing where I’ve been faced with my ethnicity being, uh, helping me and also hurting me and finding who I am and all of that. Um, another really, really big thing for me has always been showing up and I think showing up has spread out. And what that means, this is the long range as far as like what showing up means. But in the beginning showing up was like, I’m going to go to every audition. Like I don’t care if they even want someone like me, I’m just going to show up. I’m going to say yes to all my friends. I’m going to do say yes to all the projects I’m going to say, yeah, I’m going to show up and to show up to class, I’m just going to show up. Really good at showing up and then fine tuning it to now where I’m on another side of my career and showing up, it’s still showing up as one of my like principles, because now, even though I’m not having to show up so extremely in that way, because I can now I have thankfully, um, more opportunities coming to me. I can make choices. You know, I’m more in the control control seat aspect. Um, showing up now looks like for me, that representation matters. And so I have to show up because, um, people need to see people like me, people need to hear my stories. And so it’s just interesting how the showing up is still there, for me, it just, isn’t a different way.  

This is a beautiful kind of peek into a long timeline of somebody who’s found. One thing that, which is showing up and even while the world changes, the showing up is never the wrong thing to do. The showing up is the right thing to do. And the way the world shows up will change. But the fact that you show up does not. Um, I think that that’s a lovely takeaway. Um, I, I want to talk a little bit about how you show up. I think the showing up on its own can get you very, very far, but the how you show up also is extremely important. Um, I’ll approach this subject through the lens of style, um, personal style, dance style, style of communicating, um, style in humor, like your, the things that make you laugh, the way you share your laugh, the way you, uh, not only curate the vintage closing in the shop of your backyard, but you curate the experience when you’re around people, by the topics of conversation. When my husband and I started dating and he started spending more time with dancers, he’s a non dancer. Um, he, he noticed very early on and he tried to ask in a very gentle way. Did you notice that dancers almost exclusively talk about other dancers? Most of the time, the subject matter is people. And that makes sense to me because people are our material. We are the, you know, the medium that we work in is, is bodies in space and time. Um, but I noticed when you and I started like socializing that very rarely were we talking about people, we talked about our experience of the world, our feelings, emotional arcs, things that we’re interested in, not people that we’re interested in and ever, you know, ever since our, since the beginning of our friendship, when I look back at conversations with you, I can’t name one where we were like talking about the people. So I think that you’re, I think that your style, and this is again, I’m going to, I promise I’m going to make a point. I think that your style is equally human. Like, I can tell that you’re interested in humanity, very human things, but also you must know this, you are a magical being, you are whimsical. And like etherial and this kind of magical thing. So what I notice about the opening land of the opening land of la la scene, the opening scene of La La Land is that I think you are the center circle of the Venn diagram that is natural and magical. Like, if you want whimsical realism, you get Reshma. If you want somebody who is like, yeah, natural and whimsical in equal parts, I think you do that very well. Um, is that how you would explain yourself? Is that how you would explain your style?  

So, um, well first I just want you to know that there is a, post-it literally on my table that says you are a magical creature. 

That tracks. Yeah.  

It says in quotes your mind just gets in the way and  

Human mind.  

I wrote that down because someone told me that and I, I didn’t believe them. I’m like, I’m not a magical creature. She’s like, you’re, I love that. You’re telling me this right now. I had to write it down on a post-it note. And sh and that person told me your mind just gets in the way, that’s it? Like, if you move your mind, you will see that you are a magical creature anyway. Sorry. You know? Okay.  

I’ll take that. That brings up. That brings up a secondary question, which is how do you move your mind? What does that look like for you?  

You know what, I’m struggling with that  

Struggling with finding out, Yeah.  

No, moving the mind. It’s like, I’m the muscle. And so it’s, uh, that’s why the post-it’s here. Because someone told me that my mind is getting in the way and I don’t disagree. And I think it’s a muscle that I have to remind myself, remind myself. Right. I’m a magical creature

Thats cute. I see what you did there. Yeah.  Okay. So is, is, okay. Back to the original question. Now, the style in which you dance, or would you explain it? 

Um, you really explained it so nicely. Um, I definitely feel like it’s grounded in it’s grounded in reality, but there is a level of, um, lightness to it at the same time. And I feel like my, I think that was the style that I really like is grounded in humanity, but also is telling a story. So like there’s intention. And that is actually what moves me is when I watch is what I, what I like is what I want to, uh, emulate. Right. And I’ve seen many performers, dancers and actors, we all have, and there are incredible technicians out there who are, to me are like Olympic athletes or, you know, super heroes. Um, and then there are performers who like move you, right. And they move you not with their head, like down, like get their leg, kicking their head, or the technicality like that. That is like I said, Olympic athlete, athlete move, moving me. But someone who moves my emotions, like moving my emotions versus moving me into awe, right. A superhero will move me into off, but like a performer that moves me to my emotion and feel something and connect is the kind of performer I and style I want. And so I always try to remind myself of that when I’m moving. That there what’s the intention, what is, who am I in this? Like? And so it is really grounded in humanity because I want to relate and I want to connect. And I want people to feel connected and that they’re not alone or all the things I want to be that connector, you know? And I think that all kind of came from when I was younger, my sister told me I was really intimidating and it hurt my feelings.  

And so it became your life’s work to be 

Really creepy. 

The most connective approachable.  

Yes. And that’s exactly the turning point. I never, I never forgot that she was like, oh, the reason why boys don’t talk to you or like, you know, it’s, or just, you know, people are just really intimidated by you. And I immediately felt frustrated by that because I’m like, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just being myself and like, what am I doing that’s intimidating. Like, I don’t want to push anyone away. And in that moment I was so young. Like, it, it led the trajectory of my personality because I, that is when the Muppet was born,  

Really? 

That is when Muppet Reshma was born. And I was like, okay, I still want to be like an authentic, um, version of myself, but I want to be like an approachable version of myself. And so I, you know, kind of turned myself into a Muppet because I think Muppets are adorable and I love Muppets and it just happened naturally. They didn’t think about it and like, be like, I’m going to be a Muppet. I just, I naturally just like became a Muppet,  

Explain, explain your muppet self is, you know,  

Um, ex I mean, I think I was always expressive, but I just mean like, um, open and like, and, and loving and cute. And yeah,  

You’re, you’re hugging the air. She’s hugging the air times since we started talking about the Muppets 

A Muppet. I don’t think a muppet is intimidating at all right? 

Wow. I mean, I don’t think they are. Yeah maybe the cookie monster, maybe only because only because they might steal my cookies, Oscar, the grouch is not the most friendly look, very cuddly. 

You know where I’m going with it. 

So I think it’s very interesting how this is a great example of how the stories that we believe about ourselves really shape our lives. And that was such a huge, impactful moment for you. Yeah. Okay. So your sister said, you’re intimidating. You created a Muppet version of yourself who champions love. Embraces otherness and humanness and all the people, so that never, could you be feeling that you are excluding anyone, um, that yeah. When I watch you dance, it does feel very inviting and inclusive. I think, you know, when you talk about the people who really move you to me, when I watch a performer that makes me want to do what they’re doing versus makes me want to sit down and behold where they are doing that is like, that’s the mark of a magician to me of a magical performance. 

I agree. I agree. That is exactly right. Because I will watch a ballerina. Right. And I will be awestruck, but I will want to stay in my seat and watch them. Right,  

Right, right. Yes. Want to applaud you with my jaw on the floor, but yes.  

Yeah. Jaw on the floor, mad respect, like I said, Olympic athlete, superhero person, but I don’t want to jump on the stage and do that. But yeah. People who do that to me, where I’m like, I want to be in that, I want to do that. I want to be in that next show. I want to work with that person. I want to, that is, that is usually someone who was moving me from a different place than the technicalities and, you know, steps and, um, skill, high skill level. It’s something beyond that. It’s subtle. Sometimes, sometimes you don’t even, it’s not like this. It’s not theatrical you know, it’s something super subtle.  

Yeah. Let’s talk about subtlety. Something that I’ve noticed lacking in, uh, the upcoming generation, the art of subtlety and sometimes, I mean, with face sometimes, I mean, with hands or wrists, sometimes, I mean, with the whole body, there can be a very subtle shift that manifests in the entire body that is very subtle. Um, and I’ve been working lately on several projects that call for real people dancing or real person range of motion dancing or real people, slightly elevated to be dancing. And it’s difficult for a lot of the younger generation to achieve. Very difficult. I think the most readily accessible example, I will call back La La Land you in the car. In the opening scene, you have very specific choreography to unbuckle your seatbelt. You have very specific choreography with the sunglasses. There are counts. You must be a professional dancer, but you must not dance those things or before the movie even starts, we will have been taking, taken out. You establish the tone of the film with that subtlety. How did you learn how to do that? And do you have any tips for people to do that? I think it, if I could, it would be stopped taking dance class immediately and go outside and watch people in the world or take an acting class and find out how much you actually dance all the time to portray a normal person who has moved to be dancing is a completely different skillset than to be a performing dancer.  

Yeah. It is a skill set that is being asked for more and more and has been for the last, like, I don’t know, 10 years, I feel like I’ve been seeing that a lot, but it’s interesting because like, what you said was you have to be a dancer to do that job. People can’t not, they, they want normal, real people, but normal will, people cannot hit a mark I mean, no offense. I mean, maybe they can, but with the training, we are trained to hit marks, consistency, um, you know, counts and all of those things mattered. I mean, they matter, and time is money. And when you’re on set and you have to hit the mark and everybody else is allowed to make mistakes, but except for you as the performer, everyone else camera can make mistakes and everyone’s okay, everyone, but the dancer or the actor needs to kill it in every take. Like they have to hit their mark. And, you know, depending on, you know, you want to be the last reason why they need to do the take again, you know, and, um, you have to be the consistent one.  

Do you attribute your strength in subtlety to being acting training and what acting training do you actually have? I’m actually, I have a gap in my knowledge of you in this area. I know you were an Edge scholarship kid, but what supplemental training do you have? 

Um, so I actually, what’s really interesting is I took Theater Arts in college and I saw it. There was a moment in time where I really was considering acting at the beginning and I took an acting course in college and it was really traumatizing. And I thought, oh, wait, this feels really toxic. I don’t know if acting is for me, actually, this is what acting is. I don’t want to do this. I’m very protective of my, like health mentally and physically, um, which is why as a dancer, longevity was really important to me. And I was like, not trying to like, you know, do things that I felt would harm my body. You know, it was very smart about like, okay, I’m going to be, um, know how to look like I am full out like full out bleading on the dance floor, but also holding a space or an energy for my body to know when, to really disperse the energy and when to bring it in that I think comes with time and experience learning when you really need to bring it and kill it and when you really just killing yourself and that just only harms you and then your longevity of your career and is not so long because now your knees are shot and no one else cares about your body except for you. And you have to be the advocate for your body. I don’t care about what anybody says, but if I don’t want to jump on the trampoline in heels, I’m not jumping on the trampoline in heels, someone else wants to figure that out, you know, skeleton crew that out, go for it. But to go back to the, to the, the subtleties of being an, being a person who is asked to be pedestrian, that scene was definitely like riding the line of being a performer and a human at the same time. And they really wanted the human aspect. And what I do is take, I literally have to take the dancer out of me It’s like, I remove that identity out of me, um, and just focus on who I am in all of it. And so I know that sounds simpler than it is because it’s not that simple. It is really hard for dancers, right? How, how do dancers take the dancer out of them? Well, for a long time, I only identified as a dancer. And so therefore everything I do the way I sit, the way I walk, the way I dress a dancer, but I’m like, okay, no, let me expand my identity a little bit more. Who else am I, what else am I, I, I, I’m not just a dancer. I had to expand my identity. And so by doing that internal work, it kind of started to move on the outside of me. When I started to find out other parts of me, I was able to take it out of my body. It was like an energetic thing. And so the other identity started to take over. So I don’t, I don’t walk and dress and do anything that, that says screams. If I’m walking down the street, she’s a dancer, right. But once I start to dance, it’s like a magic trick. It’s like, and I can check this out. You didn’t see that coming. You know what I mean? And so feels like a fun, like surprise instead of like someone being able to like, know that I am a dancer. And so that started to happen around the time when I One was starting to get more work that was asking for that. And I wanted to be an actor more, also start acting all those things kind of started happening at the same time. And, um, yeah, I don’t know if that really answers the question. As far as acting training, I found an acting method called the Barrow group that teaches out of New York, but because of the pandemic, it was all on zoom. And so the silver lining of being during quarantine, they started teaching online and I was able to start taking those courses. Um, I was, I’ve been training, um, the Barrow Group method, which is basically like a way that empowers the actor with tools to, um, be their most authentic self in these moments. And so it’s more about script analysis than it is about character analysis, because this has us in these situations. Right. And we all can relate to any of these situations that we’re given in scripts. I really love being empowered with the tools. Yeah. And it’s not about the teacher or the teaching or anything like that. It’s all about the tools. They’re like, literally give you a tool belt tool belt, and then you can pull from it what you need in the moment.  

Don’t tell me, they literally gave me a tool belt because I will sign up. I love a utility. I have a utility vest that I wear when I clean my house. It’s actually like a tactical vest. It was a gift from my brother-in-law it says Chef. And it’s meant to be a joke, the chef 

You don’t get a real tool belt. Yeah, I wish that’d be amazing.  

It like, it’s powerful enough to think of it as such.  

Yes. And, and what I also loved about it is that it’s so clean. Like it’s so squeaky clean this method. There is no, like, there’s nothing that feels unhealthy about it. Like I go back to me being like, I’m very protective of my health. Um, yeah. It, it just, it’s never about what’s good and what’s bad. What we liked, what we didn’t like. It’s, what’s different. That’s what we’re talking about. Do to do the same scene twice. And let’s talk about what’s different. Not what’s good. What’s bad. 

I love, I love what’s different versus what’s right. Or what’s wrong. It leaves so much more room 

Because Art is..  So like everyone has their own opinion about some people 

Its so subjective in every single way. And so perhaps the ways in which we learn it are as well, but tools that help things to be clean in a world that is, that can get very muddied with all the different techniques and rights and wrongs and do’s and don’ts and absolutes really nice to have something that works. My favorite acting teacher in LA, his name is Gary Imhoff I shout him out all the time, says that technique is whatever works. I love that. I love that. So many different things that work. Um, I wanna circle back really quick, something that you said, um, rang so true when you talk about being a magician. I remember having learned in my, in my stint as a magician’s assistant, uh, I was never a magician.

I would love to be a magician’s assistant. 

You could see it. I did. I assisted Wade Robson on Chris Angel’s believe show so I was around magic and very much loved the Illusionist and the Prestige. Do you remember those films? I think they both came out the same year. Anyways. I, you probably know where this is going, but there are three parts of a magic act, I’ll call it an act. Um, I, I hope I get this right. The pledge, the turn, and then the prestige. Um, and the pledge is where you show something normal. And I think that’s the part that dancers miss, and that’s the part you do so well, you present like in normal person, right. And then the pledge is, but watch me turn it into something else. And then the prestige usually is it goes back to normal or it shows up somewhere else. So again, the opening scene of La La Land and it’s like, not only do we all go back to normal, but you see all of LA something else, and then you find out it’s winter. Like there’s, there is a, there is a punchline at the end, but I think you’re right in that, by expanding our identities, we stand to gain more turn and more prestige than starting off as what we’re, what we’re saying. We’re going to turn ourselves into. 

Thats Right. 

So starting from this most human place somehow makes the dancing, the turn and the prestige 

That what makes it more magical and also more connecting to others because then they see themselves in you. And then they’re like, oh, I connect with that. I relate to that. And then also, I don’t know, there’s a level of believability that they could also be that, you know, or do that, you know, which is great.  

Hmm. Yeah. Yeah. We want people to believe in can-do versus sit and watch me do. Yeah. Um, we, by we, I mean, you and I, I think we relate on that. I don’t, I don’t mean to speak for the entire collective of dancers in the world, but it’s something, uh, I feel kindred with you on that. Okay. Let me be very real. This is the mark of a master because when you’re watching La La land, that can look really simple. Real girl, real car, real sunglasses, real battement. But let me tell you something, those aren’t real cars. Those are prop cars reinforced with two by fours. Those aren’t your sunglasses. That’s not your dress. There’s a massive camera, three inches from your face. It can be hard to remove the dancer and just be a human. When all of the visual stimuli, the audible stimuli are telling you that you’re a freaking dancer.  

And let me tell you like, um, that yeah, the, the why I love being a dancer first always is because there are things that being a dancer trained me to be that will advance me in all aspects of my life that have nothing to do with dance. That benefit me and I’m will forever be grateful to being a dancer because it is the ultimate super hero power. And, um, one of those things as being like a major multitasker in the moment, and that, by the way that car, the door was jammed, the seatbelt was jammed. I had to like figure out I was having voices and like three, three different voices telling me different things 

Where you wearing ear wigs or no?

I had like, uh, I had, um, like I had something in my, I think, sorry. No, there was like a mic in the car, but also, I mean, they ended up using different, um, audio, but they had mic and car and then I had a musical director, a director, and the choreographer telling me three different things.  And then, um, I had to, yeah, the battement, I had to be very specific angle. It could have had to be at a very specific height, not to like, it was like a very specific angle. I had to hit that mark exactly with my hands. Exactly. He wanted it very specific. And then my, the glasses, yes, didn’t totally fit. And then I had to throw them into the window without looking at the window with the window open and they have to land in a certain place and hit the mark and then remember all the lines and then also find my human in all of it. There was a lot.   

And then, and then you had to have pulled that off and then every person down the line since then had to also know that many things y’all please go watch. It’s just truly, I cried watching it this morning because I remembered all of those things and I remembered making it to the end, pull the door and hearing somebody’s door closed slightly late and just shrinking knowing that we would ultimately be doing it one more time. 

That Also is like, another thing I love about dancers is that, like, there are moments where we take turns where it’s like, it’s such a group effort. It is such a group effort. And then there are moments where you have to also shine whether or not you want to, you have to shine and knowing like when you have to shine and when you have to blend, right. And when you have to work hard together, you know what I mean? 

What is your metric for achieving that? How do you do that?  

Um, I mean, I take it off of the, the director usually. Yeah. I feel like I can tell by the story that’s being told, like what’s important because the story overall is more important than anything else. And so the story that’s being told is the most important. It’s not me. It’s not us. It’s not anything. And then how do I make that story come to light? Like how do I participate in making that the most important thing? So in that moment, if it means I have to shine, then I have to turn. I have to, even if I’m uncomfortable or I don’t feel like I deserve it or whatever. And then there are moments where I’m like, oh, this is where I have to, we have to be unison. Like we cannot mess up. We have to close the door at the same time. Don’t mess it up no matter what you do. And it’s no, it’s everybody’s fault. We all go down one for all, for one, and like being humble and hardworking enough to blend too, you know? And like be together, dancers are the best. 

It’s so much. Yeah. It’s so much. I love dance. I love being a dancer and I love dancers. Okay. Let’s shift gears. I would love to talk about silence. Um, last week’s episode on the podcast, I talked about the things that I learned in my, uh, 21 days of silence. There were two exceptions. I’ll be real. I was on my patio one day in a big June, June bug flew at my face. And I swatted. And this is maybe five days after my surgery, swatted my hand. And I said, no, thank you with this tiny, tiny little foreign voice. And I was so upset that this June bug provoked, oh, not like, ah, but three actual, fully formed words. No, thank you. Anyways, outside of that, I did well with silence. Um, but I want the listeners to know before I had my surgery, I called Reshma because I know that each year you participate in a silent retreat. Could you tell us a little bit about what you do and what, what it entails?  

So I I’ve been for the last like 10 plus years have been studying meditation from a Himalayan Monk. And, um, it’s a Vedic, indigenous oral tradition. Sanskrit, All of it is like comes from the source. And every year we find a place in nature. You know, whether it’s like in the mountains or another like retreat center, because there’s no like property that we, that the nonprofit that this is all kind of run through has, and every year for 10 days, sometimes a little bit more, sometimes a little bit less. Um, we, we review our practice and then learn more. If we are at a level where we can learn more. And in that, in those 10 days, part of the retreat experience is that you’re in complete silence. And the reason why is so that the teachings can go in deeper and deeper in silence, and it really works. And, um,  I remember, um, when I, when I say silence, I mean, like, there’s no phone, there’s no books. There’s no music. There’s no eye contact, 

No communication. 

No communication, because communication is not silence. So no eye contact, you know, no speaking, no body language as a dancer, like not being able to be like, are you going in the bathroom? Like pointing that’s communication, no, nothing. So completely going in going totally inside. And while you are doing that, you’re also in class. I mean, the teacher, the monk who is teaching he’s speaking, but we’re not speaking if we have a burning question and it better be a burning question, just kidding. You know, maybe you can write it down on a piece of paper. You can add, you can give, you know, but these are like, you don’t, you know, when we’re talking about Himalayan Monk, you better have burning questions because questions just lead to more questions. Dana, let me tell you, I’ve learned that hardcore. 

Actually, that was my biggest misconception about my 21 day journey is that I would have an answer at the end. I was like, oh, this will be great. I’ll know. So much all come out as this, you know, actualized person with a plan, um, with answers and you, yeah. You said it. Questions begets questions.  

Yeah. And what’s beautiful is the more you meditate, you learn discernment. And then the discernment allows you to answer your own questions. And so this is a long process. Meditation doesn’t happen overnight. This is like, like lifetimes. Like I’m not going to master this. I suck at it. Kay. To be honest, like I’ve been doing it for years and I’m not trying to put a judgment on it. So I take that back. There’s no sucking at anything. It’s just, again, here I showing up, it’s coming back again with meditation, because there’s so much for me, it’s so subtle. And with my craft, it’s not subtle. Right. Except for when we talk about the dance acting like taking the dancer out, those types of things, scale  

The scale of perceptible performance versus like the work, the work is not subtle. You are working so hard. 

Right. And in meditation, it’s all about subtlety. You could feel a little bit like nothing’s happening. Right. Cause it’s so subtle. And, um, I had to really work hard on again, defining my success. Right. I, these themes keep showing up. It’s not about the successful meditation that day. It’s about, there’s no such thing anyways. It’s never going to be, I mean, the goal is for it. You to consistently find it every day. Right. But for me, it’s always about showing up. So if I showed, I show up every day and I sit down. Now, if I’m sitting for five minutes or an hour, that is, I can only show up and then see what happens. And I’m not gonna put a judgment on it, but I’m gonna always show up for myself. Because for me, meditation was like me marrying myself. It was like, my first marriage is like, I, why am I such a bad wife to myself? I don’t show up for myself. I don’t like, I can’t even sit with me myself for like two seconds. Like what kind of, what the, what kind of partner, what kind of partner my, to me. And so meditation became my first marriage to me being a good wife to myself. And so I show up every day, no judgment what happens. Happens.  

Thank you. Um, I remember when first I came to you, I was expecting to leave with tips, like how to make it easy, how to get the most out of it. And you said, Ooh, how does one prepare someone for a life without speaking, when that person loves to be speaking? And I was like, yep, I’m asking you to do something hard. And I didn’t even realize the depth of the retreat that you go on. It Inspired me. Again, I was ex I was expecting, you know, a plan like meditate once in the morning, eat this for breakfast journal this many pages, read this book. Um, go on a walk that’s this long. I really had this urge to calendar and schedule my days. And your, uh, our conversation really inspired me to take it one degree further to disengage from more, to engage more with myself. So I stopped social media. I only checked my email twice a day. I deliberately did not try to communicate. Um, my mom was going to come be with me post operation, and I love her more than anything in the world and actually asked her, I think it would be better if you don’t. I will try to communicate with you and the thought of trying to talk for 21 days versus allowing silence for 21 days. And that was a no-brainer. I was like, Hmm. I would like to allow this to happen. And I am glad that I did. I am very curious. And if you send me some information about your retreat or your type of retreat, um, oh 100% seek that out during a non post operation time of my life and maybe listeners would too. Um, but one of the things I wanted to ask you a little bit more about that you mentioned, uh, that day that we talked, uh, okay. So two things from that conversation that I wanted to bring up and allow you to share or expound on or not. Um, you said that when you can’t talk to anybody, you get louder to yourself. I definitely experienced that. I would encourage all of the artists listening to engage in vocal rest, or a vow of silence. If you are feeling out of touch with your voice, your values, your taste, uh, your sense of direction, it really gets turned up when you turn other things down. So we’d love for you to talk more about that if you want to, but also you mentioned something called the law of nature. This, that no itch will last forever. If you find yourself sitting in meditation and something’s bothering you and you really want to tend to it, if you don’t, it will go away. But if you do, you’ve broken the, your, your, uh, what is it that’s been broken. Watch me try to explain this thing. I know nothing about. Could you talk about the law of nature?  

Um, you know, it’s that thing that like this too shall pass and like sitting, I mean, there are, there are meditations that are training you to literally burn burn, um, and sitting in your, sitting in your pain and watching it. And I think even this morning, I was just talking to Miles about how, like, I’m understanding my meditation more and more and how it’s like reflecting life and like, with what’s happening on, on the outside in the world and what’s happening inside of me. And like that idea of just being like a witness and like witnessing and it being a separate thing. And, um, knowing like for me, I just am like, there will always be something if it’s not that my leg hurts or that like, oh, I have to like, oh, write that email or, you know, whatever else is distracting me physically, or emotionally, there will always be something.  And so if there will always be something I can’t stop that, but what I can do is like right now, take a second to just not worry about that and just be the, be the witness of like, okay, my, my leg is burning, but it will pass. And I will, it won’t, they won’t hurt in like two seconds. Just watch, just watch the pain. It sounds really, it’s not easy at all. I’m I know what I’m saying. Feels like, I mean, it’s not easy, but you can do it. It takes practice. Like it’s, like I said, like meditation is so hard, but it’s also not hard. It’s literally just a muscle that you just keep showing up to exercise, um, and turning almost disengaging and turning off the exercise of like taking things away and like, and going in, and, and as far as the, um, as far as the, you mentioned the first thing, which was yes, when you get quiet and you go into silence, your voice gets louder inside and that’s for better and worse. And so the things that are coming up that are loud can be things that like, you’ve like put aside and you don’t want to look at anymore, or also things that are like screaming the truth of you, like what you said, like, if you are lost or you need direction or anything like that, going silence means both of those things are going to come. Like all the stuff that you maybe have been avoiding, but also the things that you are looking and searching for, but all of those things are the truth. And so if you’re trying to find the truth, yes. Some of the truth is ugly and hard. And so you have to be prepared to face it, but then the reward is, you’re also getting things that you wanted, which is a direction and knowing who you truly are. And so they both have 

And being a partner to yourself.  

Yeah, exactly. And, um, you know, it’s totally, absolutely to me worth it to, to, to, uh, to deal with the loudness. And I think that’s also maybe sort of what I think you mentioned at the top of this, what you’re experiencing coming out of your silence, that like, you’re, you have to choose, there’s a level of choice and control over, like how much you want to exercise your voice. And that, to me feels like how I feel when I come out of silence that like, I don’t want to speak unless it’s value adding, like, I’m, there’s a lot of noise. There’s a lot of noise out there. There’s so much noise. And so let me just speak with what adds value. That’s it value adding

This is you curating the space. Yeah. Deciding editing first. Um, my husband also taught me he more or less put me through art school and introduced me to the notion of gesture, like gesture, gesture, drawing, but also gestures like in a painting, a stroke, a splatter, and there being no neutral gestures. And I think the same is true in dance, or at least I try to create from that place. It’s intense. Like when you think about the function of a preparation before a pirouette what does it contribute other than a foundation for a pirouette, is there a way to have, you know, something that’s not simply there to serve something else, but something that’s contributing, not distracting. And, uh, I, I’m noticing now more as I’m in voice therapy, which y’all, it’s been a journey, um, being, becoming more mindful of my pace, my breath, how I’m speaking, um, and what it’s supported with, uh, these are all things that I’ve been thinking so much more about now, thanks to this event, this life event of mine. Um, but I was actually shocked at how quickly I went back to talking a lot. I, when I was silent, I was like, oh, I love this. I, by the end of it, I was like, I could do this. I enjoy you  

You fall in love with it

Yes. I loved it. But as soon as I was around people again, um,  

It just so easily go back to it. Um, so when you’re in, you want to like, when you’re in it, you want to be there forever because you know that when you come out of it, it’s going to be like so fast,  

It moves fast, but there are things we can do to slow down, even when other things are moving quickly. I simply, for me, it’s simply taking breaths. Even if the sentence isn’t complete. Um, I was in back at a few past episodes and I’ll probably listen to this one too, and be like, breathe already, take a breath. So it’s an active practice I’m showing up for it. Thank you for being inspiration in that. And in so many ways. Um, and with that, for the voice, I probably should wrap it up and, um, contribute in other nonverbal ways for the rest of the day. But thank you so much for sharing your insights, your wisdom, your magic tricks. And Reshma where can people find more you, if they’re in LA, could they find the shop? How, how do we get more of you?  

Hey, um, well, I have a website which is basically my name.com. I have Instagram was basically as my name with the handlebar and I have the shop, which is called Inheritance Bombay to LA, which is exactly how you’d find me on Instagram. Um, it’s separate, it’s a separate account than my own personal account. And the shop is in Highland Park. And currently it is by appointment only, um, to keep everybody safe and feeling good. And it’s all about connection too. So, um, I like to connect if that is what you’re seeking and if you’re not seeking connection and you’re just seeking vintage, then I’m like, get it. It’s all curated to however you want it to be. But I am, I am totally open to all the things. So yeah, those are, that’s how you can find me.  

Incredible. Thank you for, thank you for being here. Thank you for being my first guest back.  

Dana. Thank you for having me. I am so happy to be here. The feeling is mutual.  

Thank you so much, my friend. And also, have I been saying your name wrong the entire time we’ve been friends?  

No, you have not. You have been saying it the way I’ve been saying it. This is a whole other podcast. Dana. I could go on and on. I actually had to think about how do I say my name  

Interesting, how does that make you feel  

Because I mean, it makes me feel all kinds of crazy. I basically even say my name wrong my whole life. And I, my name is Reshma and my mom actually calls me Resho. She says Resho. And um, growing up first generation American it’s spelled R E S H M a. So I’m like phonetically that’s Reshma. So I don’t know, mom, why are you saying my name wrong? I never said that to her, but I always was like, oh, she says it with an accent. That’s cute. Can we talk about how absolutely ridiculous that sounds like I was like, oh, she has an accent. I don’t. I say my name Reshma that’s how it is, right? Oh my God. When I realized Dana that I was like, appropriating my own name, you don’t even understand the identity crisis that I’ve been having around my name and how important, I mean, this is why I’m like, this is a whole other podcast because like it’s a word, syllables sound vibration. It is the name that everything has reasoned for. It is its existence. And Reshma is actually the way that it’s technically supposed to be said, but because I’ve always said, Reshma not thinking like, oh, I’m not, I wasn’t like it. Wasn’t coming from a place of embarrassment about my culture or my heritage. It was just, that’s just how you would say that in a R E sh- ma, like it was coming from that place. And then I don’t know why I had a disconnect with the way my culture and my family were saying my name. I just, I, maybe I chose. I also, after a certain point, I was like, I just, the way it like the way it sounded, it sounded like me and everyone called me Reshma and then it like kept reflecting back to me and it felt like me. And then when I had the moment where I was like, no, I’m the asshole in this situation. And now I have to choose, do I choose the name that is correct? Appropriate, like the appropriate pronunciation from my heritage and the way it’s supposed to be said, or do I choose the name that they both hit me in a different place in my heart, but they both are my name. Like Reshma is still, like, I identify as Reshma is like, what feels like also another part of my identity, like completely like a familial, like, like different place. And then Reshma is like my identity and like who I am in the world. And so this whole thing has been causing me all kinds of chaos and I’m like, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. And so I’ve just kind of been like going with the flow with it and like kind of slowly introducing it. And what happened is the other day I did it like a year ago on Instagram. I was like, it’s Reshma I fit it on like an Insta story. And I don’t even know how many DMs I got. Like, I’m sorry, what your name is? Reshma Like, I tried to be subtle about it, but it’s so not subtle that people heard it. They were like, your name’s Reshma I was like, oh my God, it’s not something I can just sort of try and like, introduce it into the world without an explanation.  There needs to be an explanation.  Cause it sounds like a totally new name. 

We could have a party, a re-introduction. 

So I don’t know Dana, I’m trying to figure it out, but I know I have the right to choose. So I’m like, I can choose, like I even asked my mom I’m like, do you like, what should I she’s like, do you bill, like whatever you want to do, like a beautiful thing. And I’m like, okay, well I’ll just like, I’ll just choose. 

There you go. You found the third option. You don’t have to be one or the other. You are actually both. Totally both. 

Well, my friend, what do you think? I think we will certainly be following up with Reshma in the very near future. What a gym? What a gift? What a rock star. I hope you enjoyed this one as much as I did. And I really do hope you go watch that opening scene from La La Land, actually watch the entire movie, but if you’re really up for a challenge, maybe go try to recreate Reshma’s performance from that opening scene. I think that you will find walking that line between natural and magical is much easier, said than done. Certainly much easier talked about than danced. So good luck with that. May the funk be with you? The subtle funk, the very funky funk. Go be gone. Get out there, keep it funky. And I will talk to you soon. Bye 

Ep. #87 Replay: Ep. #29 Movement Matters with Jermaine Spivey and Spenser Theberge

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #87 Replay: Ep. #29 Movement Matters with Jermaine Spivey and Spenser Theberge
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This week’s replay is so special because my guests were SO special. Welcome to the world of Jermaine Spivey and Spenser Theberg where good questions are met with GREAT answers. These humans bring so much thought into their words, movement, and world and I couldn’t be happier that they are a part of my world!

Quick Links:

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

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

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

Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

BOTH: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jermaine: There’s a lot. It’s a lot. 

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

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

Dana: Change baby change.  

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

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

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

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

Jermaine: Maybe once in 10 years have we fought. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spenser: That’s embodiment  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Break the rules.

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

Okay. Go. I want the depth.  

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

Or imagination, 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was the shift?  

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

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

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

That’s essential to all other dances somehow.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Certainly not 

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

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

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

What is success to you Jermaine? 

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

Spens, I’m curious what you’d say.  

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

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

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

Ep. #86 Replay: Ep. #21 Not Booking (AKA Not Getting What You Want)

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #86 Replay: Ep. #21 Not Booking (AKA Not Getting What You Want)
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On our third replay of August, take a listen to Not Booking, AKA not getting what you want. With the world reopening again, this can be a GREAT topic to revisit. What do you do when you’re not booked and blessed? Come explore in this episode the wonderful world of not getting what you want and how the wanting most often does not equal the getting.

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 friend. And welcome to the podcast. I am Dana. And the words that move me team is taking a short pause to stretch our legs. But in the meantime, we are replaying some of our favorite episodes and I trust that you are out there winning and keeping it funky. And I also trust that wherever you are on your journey, this episode will be a delightful companion. This week, we are replaying episode 21, not booking, AKA, not getting what you want. This one hits so hard because no matter who you are or how talented you are or where you live or what you do, you will eventually not book a gig. Furthermore, you will undeniably not get what you want at some point, or probably several points over and over again. My friends, this is life. So this episode is definitely one you will want to download and keep with you at the ready for the next time you get cut or dumped or the coffee shop doesn’t have oat milk. I do know you want this episode with you. Please enjoy this replay of episode 21, not booking, AKA, not getting what you want.

Dana: Hello. Hello, hello. And welcome to episode 21. Oh my gosh. I am jazzed as always about this episode. Thank you so much for being here. Uh, let’s do wins really quick. Holy smokes, you guys, words that move me is in Apple’s top 100 performing arts podcasts this past week. So thank you so much for that. That is a huge win. Um, we’re number 88. I don’t know, uh, how many there are, but safe to say more than a hundred. Um, and that’s so sweet. So thank you so much for that. I do believe that part of what factors into that ranking is a ratings and reviews on Apple. So if you are listening on Apple podcasts and you’re digging what you’re hearing, please think about leaving a review or a rating so, so appreciate that. Um, okay, let’s not waste any time. Let’s get into you and your wins. What’s going well in your world? Hit me now you  

Great. I’m so glad that you’re winning. This episode is about not booking. Speaking of winning, it’s my favorite subject. Honestly. Actually here’s the truth. This episode is not just about not booking, it’s about not getting what you want period. I am very familiar with not booking and as a self proclaimed movement master that might come as a shock to you. So here’s what it really boils down to. I try a lot, I fail a lot, I succeed a lot. I want a lot and I often get what I want. Now there is a very specific brand of not booking that comes along with the audition process. It’s a very particular sting and I’m going to talk about auditions and that particular brand of staying in depth a little bit later on. Like, actually I have a plan to be talking about auditions for all of August. I’m very excited about audition august, so tune in for that. But um, what I want to talk about right now is the cringe that I feel when I hear people, usually outsiders talking about high performers who miss the mark. Usually they’re talking about competitions and competitors. They say that he or she won because they really wanted it. Or they say that he or she didn’t win because they didn’t really want it that bad or they didn’t want it bad enough or somebody else wanted it more. Well, I’ve seen people really want it and not win. And I’ve seen people that are just really good at stuff who don’t really care a whole lot, win a lot, and at a certain level, everyone really wants it. Everyone that moves to LA to become a whatever really wants it. But auditions don’t care about how bad you want it.  And competitions don’t care about how bad you want it. The Olympics, Oh man, don’t get me started. The Olympics really, really, really don’t care how bad you want it because everybody there really, really wants it. That guy who didn’t win didn’t not win because he didn’t want it. He didn’t win because he wanted it so bad and he was running so hard that he broke his leg. That is a black hole. You don’t want to go down. Olympian breaks their leg. Don’t even do it. Don’t even do it. I did it, anyways. All that is to say wanting it won’t get it. Even wanting it and training really, really, really, really hard for it. Doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get it. Sometimes you simply won’t get it. Period. The Olympics are a really great example of this, but also on a smaller, slightly different scale, no pun intended. I want cookies almost all the time, so there goes the proof that wanting equals getting it’s out of the window. Wait, did I say that right? There goes proof that wanting is not equal to getting, yeah. If I got everything I want, I would be eating cookies all the time and then who? Yikes up there. 

Okay. So most of us, especially right now know this all too well. We want to be working. We want to be hanging out with our friends. We want to be hugging, we want to be being places and doing things with people. Yes. This episode goes out to all you graduating seniors who wanted your cap and gown gathering. Yes. It goes out to all you dancers who wanted to win title at nationals this year. Yes. This goes out to everyone that wanted to have their highest earning year yet. And you still might, by the way, but you might not. This episode is about not getting what you want and newsflash, most of us are not very good at not getting what we want. So let’s get to work.  

Yes, I am a professional dancer, choreographer, movement coach and I am also a professional at not getting what I want. Some early memories of this include, uh, as a tiny, tiny little dancingling I received honorable mentions a lot. Second or first runner up also happened to me a lot my senior year at nationals. Actually, I was 16th runner up and I was supposed to win that year, by the way, in my head. Anyways, let’s take another example. When I was like 14, maybe 15, I remember terribly wanting to be in the big kids dance that the senior dance that was choreographed by Dee Caspary shout out to Dee. And uh, I was old enough to be considered. So I auditioned. I did not make it, but Dee and his big, big heart invited me to be in the room for the creation process and learn it as what we call a workshop. Um, and even jump in as a swing. If anybody was to become injured during the season or something like that, I would know the dance. I could, I could jump in. Honestly, that seemed like a pretty sweet deal to me. It wasn’t until Dee asked me in his own way to stop moving because I was distracting him. Ooh. Crushed. I was crushed and I sat crushed on the floor of the dance studio for two whole days. While he choreographed and all the big kids danced a dance that I so badly wanted to dance man. 14-15 years old. I got crushed a lot. Oh, here’s another good one. When I was 16 or 17 three of my closest friends, Randi Kemper Tony Testa  and Misha Gabriel
all still incredible and all still dear friends by the way. They all booked a tour. Brian Friedman what up, B-Free, booked all three of them and a different curly haired brunette girl named Kalie Kelman to go on tour with Aaron Carter. I was crushed. Yes, deeply. And then again in 2011 Oh here’s a different kind of crushed, I booked a feature film, the remake of Dirty Dancing and it was directed by Kenny Ortega who choreographed the original and we were weeks into rehearsal. Several dancers. Oh, what a good squad. Whoa man. My heartbreaks, just thinking about this and Production pulled the plug, production completely ceased to exist. I was crushed again. We were all crushed weeks of team building, dancing, endorphins, man. Cloud nine and then right back to not being booked. So what did being crushed really look like for me? Here are a couple of versions. First, the ugly cry, that’s still a pretty common action by the way. Even today, tears, hot tears of self pity, some anger occasionally. Um, usually some jealousy, sometimes the victim mentality, not always, but sometimes that’s where thoughts like “This always happens to me or when am I going to get my break? Or I did everything right and the world is just so wrong.” Those are some of my victim thoughts. Usually some entitlement as well. Thoughts like “it was supposed to be different this time. This was supposed to be my big gig, my moment, my movie, my award, my project, my thing. I am perfect for this thing. How did I not get it? “ Yeah. “Is it because I’m not perfect? Is it because I’m the worst?” Oh God. Then the shame spiral. Ouch. Tears. Now sometimes I’d see myself through the ugly tears. I’d sit with them long enough and be with them long enough to come out on the other side, so to speak, or at least come out with a different feeling.  Okay.  But all too often buffering would be right at the heels of those ugly tears. Buffering is giving into the urge to feel better. Buffering is resisting, avoiding or ignoring feelings that you don’t want by seeking the immediate comfort and temporary pleasures that you do want. Buffering, especially with food and drink. And yes, the Instagram scroll are super common. But here’s the sneaky thing about buffering. It leaves you with an unwanted feeling in the end anyways. You feel awful. So you eat, which kind of feels good. So you keep eating and then you overeat and then you feel awful and then you feel awful and then you feel awful or you drink, which kind of feels good. So you keep doing it and then you feel awful because you are drunk or you have a hangover or you feel awful about yourself. So you scroll through Instagram seeking that dopamine hit of the likes and the comments, the love.  And for a while that feels pretty good. So you keep going and all of a sudden an hour has gone by and you’re crumpled over your phone with three chins and a furrowed brow. And you’re most likely just judging and comparing yourself to other people and now you feel awful. Oh, sneaky buffers. I’m going to go deep on buffering in another episode, but for now I want to talk about not getting what we want and not buffering. 

Think about a time when a child in your life has really, really wanted something, a cookie, a new toy, maybe, uh, maybe to go to school with pajamas on anything. This plays out usually in a few different ways. Number one, they ugly cry a tantrum, in other words, until the adult buckles under the pressure and gives the kid what they want. Number two, the ugly cry or the tantrum go on for so long without the adult buckling that the child becomes exhausted and eventually moves on with their life and wanting something else. The third outcome and my personal favorite happens occasionally when the parent says to the child, Oh yes, you can have X if Y you can absolutely have dessert. If you finish eating your vegetables or yes, you can definitely have that toy. If you save up your allowance and buy it or yes, you can wear your pajamas to school. If you tell them you’re somebody else’s child. True story. I have heard that one out loud before. Anyways, this third option is where I think I live most of the time. I am the parent and the child in this equation by the way, so not getting what I want occasionally fuels me to stay the course long enough that I wind up getting it or something like it. Eventually. This is what happened with my friends and that tour. Yes, I was crushed. I was obliterated. I did cry, ugly cry, yaks ugly teenage cry.  

This is really good stuff. Anyways, I would cry. I would imagine them all out there having fun. I would imagine myself on stage with them. I’d imagine what I would look like, I’d imagine how I would dance. I’d imagine the music and the fans and somewhere I held onto the thought that that could still happen. Maybe they do a really, really big show and decided that they needed more dancers or maybe, God forbid somebody could get injured and they would need a swing, right? They’d need a replacement. Well, that tour came and went. It turns out I would not dance for Aaron Carter, but I thought I could still be a touring dancer if I worked really, really hard and just stuck at it. I imagined it all the time. I imagined myself dancing behind Britney Spears. I imagined myself dancing behind pink. I imagined myself dancing behind B2K True story. I could literally see it. Knee pads, crop tops, short shorts, boots. Well, it turned out I was wrong, very wrong about a lot of that, but I was right about some things too. I would not dance behind Pink, but I would play volleyball with her at Tujunga park, occasionally. I would not tour with Britney, well not on stage anyways. I would go on to be filmed as a silhouetted background body dancing on a big led screen back behind her. I would not dance for B2K total dead end there, just nothing. I think they stopped making music anyways. I was wrong about the crop tops and shorts too. Instead it was a suit and tie. I was wrong about the boots. It was sneakers most of the time and heels some of the time. Yeah, big stuff did eventually happen and it was never what I thought it was going to be. To be honest, it was better.  

So we’ve talked about not getting what you want and crying about it. We’ve talked about not getting what you want and crying and buffering. We’ve talked about not getting what you want and staying the course until eventually you get something and now I want to touch on those times when you think you got what you wanted and it turned out to be something else all together. Cookies for breakfast for example. Yeah, I’m an adult and I do what I want. I’m the boss of what I put in my mouth and sometimes I put cookies in my mouth for breakfast and then 2:00 PM rolls around and I’m at the mercy of a brutal, brutal blood sugar crash. It gives me every time or let’s take the movie, for example, dirty dancing. We dancers were flying high. We were working hard. Yes, like eight hour rehearsal days of almost nonstop movement, but we were also dreaming big and we were fueled by this momentum of this thing that was bigger than us.  We were fueled by our imaginations and dreams of what the red carpet premiere would feel like and then sugar crash. No more movie, not what we’d imagined, not what we wanted back to not being booked. If Corona virus has taught us anything, it is that anyone, no matter how booked you are can become unbooked, crushing. Right. Okay, so there are a lot of ways someone can be crushed. Dana, I thought you were going to tell me how to not get crushed. No, I never said that. I said that this episode is about not getting what you want. I do not have the answer for you. See that disappointment that you’re feeling. See how you’re not getting what you want right now. You really wanted an answer to this. You really wanted a solution. Okay, we’ll hold onto that feeling. Hold onto that disappointment because we’re going to work on that.  

Most of our desires are sprung from how we think. We’ll feel with a certain thing. I want to go on tour because I think it’ll feel amazing to get paid to travel the world and have thousands of people cheering. For me, I want to be in movies because I think I’ll feel important. I think I’ll be a star. I want a glass of wine because I think I’ll feel relaxed and rewarded. See, I want the thing because I think it’ll make me feel a certain way. Now, what I’d like to offer you today is that all of those feelings are available to you without the accompanying criteria of the circumstance. In other words, you can feel amazing without touring the world. You can feel important without being in movies. You can feel relaxed and rewarded without a glass of wine. You can feel like a winner without going to nationals. You can feel accomplished without having a graduation ceremony.  In addition to that, you can survive feeling crushed. Even furthermore, you can survive feeling crushed without buffering. Think about the last time that you went to the doctor for a shot you usually, well I usually have to take a deep breath and kind of rally myself into believing that needles are okay. And then I have a seat on that weird rubber cushion covered in weird wax paper. Makes weird sounds. And then I feel this thing and then my arm is kind of sore and sometimes it hurts a little bit to move and then I get a bandaid and then it’s over and I feel okay. I do not go into the doctor’s office and get a shot and immediately start eating and drinking and scrolling through Instagram. No, I breathe, I sit with this thing. I sit with a soreness. Sometimes I even move around extra in the soreness because it’s kind of interesting to feel and then I leave better than when I went in. I leave. Totally. Okay. So what if not getting what you want was like getting a shot. What if you knew that you would feel okay and even be better for this? What if you were like the parent who knows that the kid is going to be just fine without the cookie, the kid is going to be just fine. Without the toy, you will be just fine. Without this gig, you’ll be just fine. Without the title, you’ll be just fine without this job. What if  now it’s okay to want things so bad that you can taste it or in a dancer’s case, usually so bad that you can see it, like you can feel it. It’s also okay to not get it. It’s okay to be wrong. When you imagine your future, you likely will be. Yeah, it’s okay to want things. It’s okay to not get them. What’s not okay is stopping. In fact, the only way you can be sure that you’ll never go on tour or never be in a movie or never work with so and so is to stop trying, so keep trying, keep working, keep not getting what you want and watch how much you get in the end. That’s all I’m saying. I’m done.  

Really. That’s it. I hope you dug this conversation about not booking as much as you like actually booking. And if you do go leave a review, go leave a rating and I will talk to you soon. Keep it funky y’all. That’s different. Keep it funky y’all. I dunno. It’s not not so good. 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 words that move me member, so kickball, change over to patreon.com/wtMMpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Ep. #85 Replay: Ep. #3 Dance Lessons are Life Lessons With Chloe Arnold

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #85 Replay: Ep. #3 Dance Lessons are Life Lessons With Chloe Arnold
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On our second replay of the month, take a dive into my 3rd episode with the lovely Emmy nominated and master teacher Chole Arnold. If knowledge is power… this episode is a superhero! I talked to Chloe about the education that didn’t only land her at the top of the industry.. it taught her to elevate her community along with her. If you’re looking for the motivation to take your training to the next level, this episode is for you.

Quick Links:

Follow Chloe: Website, InstagramYoutube

Transcript:

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

Hi, this is Dana and I’m not here right now. The words that move me team is on vacation. So leave a message and we’ll get back to you in a few weeks. I’m sorry, the gimmick I had to do it. It just felt so, right. Honestly, I used to get such a kick out of recording clever and witty, outgoing voicemail messages. Like when was the last time that you did that? Was that ever a thing in your life like amongst your friend group, like clever, witty, special outgoing voicemails? Um, my friends used to like fully have music playing in the background. It was, it was a real thing. Oh man. Uh, anyways, it’s true. We are on vacation, but don’t go anywhere because this month we are replaying some of our favorite words that move me podcast episodes. These are ranked among our highest listens and our most beloved internally as well. And it just so happens that today’s episode is one of my first and all time favorites today. I am replaying episode three, Dance Lessons are Life Lessons with Chloe Arnold. Now this is obviously among my first, it’s episode three, and it’s certainly one of my first interviews. I sat down with Chloe Arnold and had this conversation. Man, I would have loved for that to have lasted another hour, but there we were sitting in a convention center ballroom on an weekend and you know how those weekends go, or if you don’t, they go really, really fast. Um, and if you know, Chloe, you know that she also moves very fast and is always up to really exciting things right now is no exception. She is still teaching all over the world, performing with her fabulous group, the syncopated ladies, and at the current, she is choreographing a feature film with our dear friends, Ava Bernstein and Martha Nichols as associates and holy smokes I can’t wait to see it. I simply love celebrating these women. I think that all three of them are examples of what is possible. I count Chloe among my superhero friends. She is just so absolutely capable. Determined has a strong mind and a super strong skillset. Uh, so I’m thrilled to be celebrating her today and resharing this episode. And while we’re on the subject, if you are celebrating the podcast, I would totally celebrate you for leaving a review. Um, I really do love hearing what you think about the podcast. And I know that reviews and ratings help other people to find the podcast too. So I encourage you to do that if you are so moved to do so. All right, my friends with that, we will get into it. Enjoy this episode with Chloe Arnold, because if knowledge is power, she is a dang superhero. Please enjoy this replay of episode three dance lessons are life lessons with Chloe.

Dana: Hi there. I am so excited that you’re joining me. Today is a big, big day. It is a great day. It is a super day. I’d like to dig right in, but first a word from our sponsors. No sponsors, just my words. So let’s dig in. We start with a story. It is a true story. Once upon a five years ago, I was teaching a dance class, big old dance class. Picture, a hotel ballroom with low pile carpet and one of those wooden like wedding dance floors right in the middle of it. Now add about 100 to 125 dancers. Oh, and those dancers are between 7 and 10 years old. Oh yes. I know what you’re thinking. That’s a lot of 7 to 10 year olds. I agree and I think that life is like a ballroom full of 7 to 10 year olds. You never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes it’s cartwheels. Sometimes it’s a deeply insightful conversation and sometimes it’s a pants pee. You really never know. Now there’s loud music. We’re in the thick of it. We’re sweating, we’re dancing. It’s going well. Everybody’s hitting the steps, which is dance talk by the way, for doing the steps well, and there’s maybe like 20 minutes left of class. It’s usually around this time that I like to throw a little curve ball, not an actual curve ball. Of course, I’m not a sports type. This is basically the point of the class where I like to shift the focus to being more about a verbal communication. So I decided to ask the room a question and I’m expecting a few brave souls to raise their hand and answer, Oh no, no, not this group. A sea of tiny arms and hands sprout up. I swear nearly every person in the room raised their hand or both hands in some cases.  

You know it’s very funny actually. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they raise their hand. Think about it and observe next time. Okay, so cut to the chase. I asked the room of seven to 10 year olds, mind you, “why do you dance?” And these are some of the answers that I got back. Okay. Anonymous dancling number one says “because I can’t not dance” and I thought, Hmm, I’m impressed. I would go to your birthday party. Anonymous dancling number two says, “because it’s how I choose to express myself.” Also a good call. I love that you’re 7 to 10 years old and you have a number of ways that you can express yourself. This is just one of them. Your chosen way to express yourself. This is great. I’m thinking I can’t get enough. Who’s next? And a young danceling catches my eye. She’s wearing thick glasses and I can’t remember what color, orange maybe. I remember looking at her and thinking, Oh, you’re little miss sunshine. I cannot wait to hear what you have to say. So I call on little miss sunshine and she says, “because dance lessons are life lessons.” And at this point I’m blown away. I’m speechless because she’s right or her mom was right or her PR coach was right, but something about her delivery and the slight veil of steam on the inside of her glasses where it rested on her cheeks. Something told me those were her words and she could not be more right. Dance lessons are life lessons. Now the message here is not for everyone to go and enroll in dance class so that they can start kicking butt at life. Although that would be great for my industry. The message is actually that if you can master the art of learning, you can master anything.  

Now, not every one of my students will grow up to be a professional dancer or choreographer, but they will grow up to be something special because they have a place to practice. Things like taking direction, giving direction, and my personal favorite changing direction. And that’s even on top of things like managing a schedule, articulating complex thoughts and feelings and of course sewing. That’s right. Point shoes. Don’t come with the ribbons on them. You have to do that yourself. Today’s guest has more to say about tap shoes than point shoes, and she’s also going to tell us about how her education shaped her life. Chloe Arnold is an Emmy nominated choreographer, master teacher, entrepreneur, co-creator of the globally famous syncopated ladies, and she’s a dear friend of mine. I’m so lucky. It’s insane. Chloe is a bonafide master learner and I am thrilled to get to learn from her. I can’t think of anyone that’s a bigger advocate for dance and she’s got an Ivy league education to boot. I hope you enjoy and learn a boatload from this conversation with Chloe Arnold. 

Dana: Holy smokes. Um, introduce yourself. 

Chloe: Well, hello everybody. I am so excited to be on your podcast. Dana Wilson. Um, who am I? Well, I am a professional tap dancer, entrepreneur, choreographer. Um, I created a company called syncopated ladies, which is an all female tap dancing band with a mission to bring tap dance to pop culture in a respectful and uplifting way. I also choreograph television. I was recently nominated for an Emmy for the  Late, Late Show with James Cordon. Um, I’ve been working with them for about five years. I’ve choreographed over 50 episodes of television now. And um, my work has been seen online by about 50 million people, uh, from the work that I’ve created. So I’m a content creator and, um, one of my, one of my pinnacle moments and turning points for me was, uh, when Beyonce shared my work and hired me to bring syncopated ladies, um, to represent her. And I am a protege of Debbie Allen and that’s where I learned almost all of the lessons that I’ve applied to my life as a dancer and a business woman entrepreneur.  

Oh. So outside of the school of Debbie Allen, you are also a Columbia graduate. 

Oh yes

So I have this theory that you don’t have to be book smart or even necessarily street smart to be a great dancer, but it’s not a coincidence that the best dancers are also very intelligent. I would love to hear if you could pinpoint the qualities that you gained from your dance training that carried over into helping you through your Columbia days. And also what Ivy league lessons you learned that crossover into making you such a successful dance unit.  

Woo. Okay. So my dance training was quite unique from the standpoint. Well, it started very normal where I was in a strip mall studio and I took ballet, tap, jazz. But my mom recognized that the training wasn’t really, really good. Um, and she had us re choreograph a tap duo that I was a part of. She was like, this is not good. We need to go figure this out. And she sent us to our friend, my friend, my partner’s basement and left us. That’s the interesting thing. She didn’t like come and have oversight. No, she’s like, go figure it out. So, so that was my first experience with a couple of things. One, understanding what it is to have a quality education, right? So understanding when you don’t have someone that is, um, insisting upon your excellence that you have to, you know, look inside yourself and find it and level up yourself.  Right. And so that was a really great lesson and I remember that the teacher ended up letting us keep it because it was good, but that was also the turning point in my mom saying, okay, we need to find somewhere else. But also recognizing that I had this love for tap. So she looked into the newspapers, the trades, well not the trades, they were no trades, the newspaper regular, it’s called the city paper, DC and there happened to be an audition for a youth tap company. And so I went to that youth tap company audition and I got into the company on probation. So I had three months to improve as a tap dancer or I would be out. So I was on probation, and I did improve. And um, and I think that it was wonderful for me to have that deadline because who was practicing? I was in the kitchen when my tap shoes.

In the everywhere. 

Everywhere. Yes. But I re I remember the kitchen the most because that’s where, you know, the loudest part of the house. Right. So, um, and but no, absolutely under my desk in school, everywhere that I could possibly at the bus stop, et cetera, et cetera. So it was great because at a young age, uh, I was responsible for the outcome of my education. So it wasn’t like, Oh my mom can just pay and I’ll get it. If I didn’t level up. It doesn’t matter whether you pay or not, you’re not in it. So that was really great. Then I was in that program and uh, there was this big audition coming to town for a tap show and the teacher told me that I wasn’t ready yet for that big audition. So this is another example where my mom was like, you don’t limit what you’re capable of.  You go try. If it doesn’t work out, that’s fine, but you’re not going to not go. So she sent me against the advice of the director. I ended up getting the audition and I was the youngest kid. Again, I wasn’t, wasn’t necessarily at the level, but you know, people we know as teachers you feel someone’s spirit and the grit. And so that’s what I really learned is through that experience is you can’t let other people set the ceilings for your success or your potential. Even if they love you, even if they’re nice to you, even if you know they believe in you to a certain extent. There are things that you can imagine for yourself that are just far beyond what someone can know is in your imagination. So at a very young age, I learned this idea that there are no ceilings and even if I’m not good enough yet, which I wasn’t and I knew that, that I, I have the ability to practice to become better and I just need an opportunity to go and try. Yeah. So then I had a, there was an African American woman in DC who had been watching me over these years and she approached mom and said, I really think I can do something for your daughter. I would like for her to come work with me. And in actuality, her technique was not necessarily as good as the technique of the program I was in. But my mom again had like a, a vision for like, I think this woman is going to see her in a different way and pull her potential out. And that’s exactly what happened. So I went to this woman, she actually mandated that if we were going to tap, we had to take ballet, modern and jazz, cause she had been on Broadway. So she was like, you’re not going to just be over here just tap dancing by itself. You have to augment, learn as much as you can and it’ll all work symbiotically together. So that was another experience of just because you love one thing, it does not make it the exclusive thing you should learn about. Right. So diverse education of every genre of everything you can do, the more you can learn, the more you’re empowered. So that was an incredible lesson because then it came to save me when I auditioned for my mentor, Debbie Allen and I went in because there was a tap role. So I went in like, Oh am I get this tap role? And I went to the tap audition and Debbie said, that’s great. She loved the tap. She said now go put your jazz shoes on. And that was the big gulp moment. But if I hadn’t had that teacher who had made me diversify, I wouldn’t have known what I was doing and I wasn’t the best again. But I was able to, you know, bring a fire and I was able to get the tap duo role at the show and also do the other genres.

And also choreograph 50 episodes of James Cordon, which was definitely not exclusively tap. 

No, I only for James cordon, we’ve only done tap on two episodes. 

There you have it. 

And so God bless Debbie Allen and my teacher Toni L’ombre for expanding my education because without that greater knowledge I wouldn’t be able to, to have the freedom of expression that I have right now. I learned through all of these and I have to say, in my case, very empowered women. That education will always come to save you in the long run, like your training and education. You don’t know when, you don’t know how, but you will one day hit a roadblock and the things that you learned somewhere from your, your childhood to through college, through your adult life. There will be a lesson in there that will help you surpass that obstacle.  

Okay, I’m going to pause right there because there is a lot of greatness to sink our teeth into. Firstly, I love how much emphasis Chloe puts on quality training. It’s good to have a sense of when you are or when you aren’t getting what you need, but what I really love is the way that she talks about improving even without someone else insisting on your success because to an extent we can’t always choose who our teachers are, but we can choose what kind of student we are and that is what really determines our progress. Chloe was and still is the type of student that puts in time and effort on her own. Even without the supervision or encouragement from others. She also takes big leaps even before others would say she is quote “ready” and I think there’s a lot to be said for that.  I really love the way that she talks about not letting other people, even the people that love you, set the ceiling for your success and what’s possible for you. I really believe that your vision for yourself can be far beyond what others could ever have imagined for you and dreaming that big can be uncomfortable. I’m still getting better at it myself. It takes practice and patience. I’m really interested in the power of goal setting and I’m excited to dig into that in future podcasts. Now, before we dig back in with Chloe, I want to add some thoughts about the importance of diverse training in Chloe’s story. She talks about auditioning for Debbie Allen and the way that her jazz skills came in handy in support of her tap skills and that may have been what tipped the scale in her getting that job. Now, like Chloe, I grew up in a program that required training in many styles.  I was what you would call a “Jack of all and a master of none.” I wasn’t the best at any one style, but I genuinely loved elements of all of them. When I first started auditioning for professional work in Los Angeles, I remember being frustrated because it seemed like all anybody ever wanted was a specialist. They wanted the sharpest of sharp jazz dancers or the most technically flawless ballerinas or the Illest of the illest B-boys, or the sexiest of the sexy ladies. You get the just what I wish somebody had told me then was that by nurturing my diverse training and indulging in other genres, even outside of dance, like acting or mine for example, I’d become not only the best, but the only person quite like me. Let’s jump back in with Chloe and find out more about what makes her so singular.  

In my research. Chloe, I discovered that you were president of your high school all four years, so I’m wondering, have you always loved school or was there something else driving you to the top in terms of education? 

Okay. I’ve always loved school. I’ve always, I’m an overachiever and I think it’s fun. So it’s not like over achiever because I need somebody else’s accolade. I derive pleasure from hard work and like achievement. So from, I was captain of the patrols in fifth grade. Okay. That’s the safety patrols to make sure that everybody in school was A-okay. Like I’ve always, and I’ve ran a campaign at a sash and I had a badge and it’s the captain on it and um, and he had to learn how to like fold your belt. Anyway, I took great pride in it all. I’ve always loved leading and I’ve always been the um, like anti bully campaigner.  So I was always very popular and I, and I liked using my popularity to create equity and that is what I still do right now. I want to make people feel good. And so I think it started at a very young age and then.. And then again in high school, his class president LOL. I was very aware and that was very, I stood up for people. I just stood up for the kids and because I was quote unquote cool, I was able to get the cool kids to be nicer cause I was a nerd. I was a cool nerd. So I was living in both worlds. And as the seeing both sides and also like for the kids that were struggling, a lot of the younger like underclassmen, I would like make incentives cause I, I would be like, I’ll take you to lunch, mind you, like look at a $2 lunch if you get on the honor roll.   And so we’re like, you know, try to use my leadership roles to affect a change. And so now with like syncopated ladies, we just perform for example in, um, Folsom state prison. But the way we were brought there is because the work we created online and we, they knew we had choreographies and pieces of work that could speak to the inmates and give them hope and um, inspiration. And fortunately that’s what happened. And we got so many beautiful messages. For example, one of the inmates said it was the first time in 20 years that he felt free. And so for me, like that’s how education and empowerment come together cause I studied filmmaking at Columbia and I knew going in I was like, I’m going to put tap dance and dance on film and television and that’s how I’m going to change the world.

If your history is any indication of what’s to come, then I’d say you will be changing the world. 

Thanks Dana Wilson. Thank you so much. We’ll Do it together. 

Yeah.  Ah, thank you so much. You’re an inspiration. Alright, in Chloe’s story, her mom always saw great things for her and several other people stepped into the picture because they saw her potential. That’s not a tremendously uncommon narrative, but what is unique and most appealing to me about Chloe’s story is that the guidance and generosity extended by others was not only matched but exceeded by her appetite for hard work and her big picture vision of how she will change the world. My biggest takeaway from this conversation with Chloe is that education and empowerment really go hand in hand and if we’re doing it well, one leads directly to the other. Thank you so much for listening and I will talk to you soon. 

Ep. #84 Replay: Ep. #5 Is Fear Keeping You Alive, or Eating You Alive?

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #84 Replay: Ep. #5 Is Fear Keeping You Alive, or Eating You Alive?
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This week is the first of our replays for the month of August! Starting out with Episode #5, and it is frighteningly good.  It digs into concepts of FEAR.  The kind that keeps you alive and the other kind that keeps you from LIVING!  Give a listen and cut the ties to fear that are holding you back.

Quick Links:

The Power Of Vulnerability – Brené Brown

The Call to Courage – Brené Brown

Daring Grately – Brené Brown

Failing Your Way to Success

How To Be A Successful Failure

Gift of Fear – Gavin de Becker

Brooke Castillo’s Thought Model

The Farwell – Akwafina Movie

Episode Transcript

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

Hello, Hello, My friend and welcome to Words that Move Me. I’m Dana and you are catching the words that move me team on vacation after 85 plus episodes, including several bonus jams. The words that move me team is taking some well-deserved time off and reminding you of some of our favorite episodes. Today’s replay is one that I get the most feedback about. And when I teach and when I coach themes from this episode, show up almost daily. So yes, today’s replay is addressing fear. One of my favorite subjects so much fun. Uh, what’s really fun actually is that this episode is a very early one. I recorded it pre pandemic, and it’s really interesting to consider what people might’ve been afraid of then versus now so much has changed. And yet so much is the same. What do you think? Do you still have more to learn about fear? I’m willing to bet that you do, and I’m willing to bet that this episode will help. So I am so glad that you are here and I am so excited to share this episode, but before I do, I want to let you know that when we get back from our little break, we’ll be talking about fear and managing your mind around it a lot. So be sure to subscribe now so that you don’t miss anything later. All right, with that, everyone enjoy this replay of episode. Number five is fear keeping you alive or eating you alive? I’ll talk to you soon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never. One more time. We’re on the podcast. One more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review your words move me too. Number two things I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.