Ep. #60 Clean Up, Read Up, Open Up with Terry Santiel and Co-host Ava Flav

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #60 Clean Up, Read Up, Open Up with Terry Santiel and Co-host Ava Flav
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THIS is history right here; past, present, and future.  I am honored to be co-hosting this episode with my dear friend and long time (tour time) bookend, Ava Bernstine Mitchell (aka Ava Flav).  Ava is a journalist, world renowned dancer, choreographer and educator, podcast host and much more!  In this episode, Ava and I go down memory lane AND look to bright and wealthy futures with the one and only Terry Santiel.  We all met back in 2007 when Terry was playing percussion and Ava and I were dancing on JT’s Future Sex Love Show Tour!   This episode peeks behind the curtain of the recording and touring industries, and will leave you inspired AND in stitches.  So, get ready for giggles and some very teachable lessons about legendary hits, building your financial foundation,  and keeping it clean with Terry Santiel and Ava Bernstine.

Quick Links:

Ava Flav: https://www.instagram.com/avaflav1/

Terry’s email: terralzzzz@aol.com

The Dance Room Podcast with Ava & Heather: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-dance-room/id1470544579

Bagpipe Daily video: https://www.instagram.com/p/malL3wxnAU/

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: Ladies and gentlemen. Hello, Hello. My name is Dana and this 

Ava: Is Ava Flav here with you.  

Dana: Ava will be joining me as co-host on this episode and I could not be more thrilled. Um, I’m jazzed that you’re here and I’m really excited for this episode because today will be, we will be talking to our friend, Mr. Terry Santiel. 

Ava: Yes. 

I mean, we’ll let him do the speaking the introduce of himself, but, uh, we met Terry back in 2007 when we toured with JT on the future sex love show tour. Terry plays percussion and Terry is exceptional, and we’re going to get to that. But first, you know how we do on the podcast, and I think this is important, All my guests introduce themselves and maybe it’d be cool for you for you to do a little self intro real quick. 

Cool, cool. Well, my name is Ava Bernstein Mitchell. I am a dancer choreographer teacher worked with lots of artists, toured with many artists, Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears. I am heavy in Dance advocacy. I am on the board at SAG AFTRA and on dancers Alliance and fighting a lot for dancers rights and what not and I just all around just loved dance.  

And you are also a podcast host, and I am borrowing you for this episode. Tell us a bit about your podcast.  

Oh, my podcasts called the dance room. It is a podcast that I co-host with Heather Morris and we basically talk about dance shows and have wonderful guests on there. But at the moment it is on a hiatus, but you can always go back and listen to these episodes. We have some great guests and go over some really cool stuff. So yeah, The Dance Room,  

Your library is good. I went on a, I did a road trip once I was doing a long drive and that’s just what I listened to top to bottom the whole thing the two of you together. Hi, Heather, love you. Okay. But first Ava, you know the deal we’re doing wins and I’m going to let you kick it off today. What are you celebrating today?  

It’s might sound not like a win to some people, but it’s a win because I’ve been teaching three-year-olds, which is a struggle. I’m not going to lie. Three-year-old is tough. I’m five and up and recently that class just got canceled and I’m so excited. It’s a win for me. So yes.  

And do you know what? I think that might be a win for them as well. You know, they have this time freed up now they can be yes.  

Now they can play with each other. That’s all they wanted to do. They want us to play with each other and I’m happy for that. You didn’t need to dance. 

Congratulations. Thank you. I’m glad that I’m glad that you’re winning in that way is it’s important. Cancellations are not always a loss. 

No, not always a loss. 

Okay, great. I love that. Um, this week I am celebrating that I’ve decided I can’t believe it took me so long to decide to do this, but I’ve decided to choose a donation organization to send all the proceeds from my podcast shop. So for the next 30 days, all proceeds from my Words that Move Me online store are going directly to Chloe and Maude Arnold, 

My sister, friends. Yay.

I, I love that too. And I, I love that. I love what they do. I love how they lead. Um, and I’m really thrilled to be supporting them. Okay. Um, now it’s your turn. What is going well in your world? 

Phenomenal. Congratulations. Maybe, maybe without any further ado we jump to, how do you feel about that? 

I think we shall let’s do it. 

Enjoy everybody. 

Dana: I think we’re doing it. I think this is it.  

Ava: Yes. Well hello Terry Santiel, yeah. 

Terry: Hey Ava. And now I’m saying hi, Dana.  

Dana: Hi Terry. Welcome to the podcast, my friend. This is amazing. I’m jazzed about this. The first thing we’ll ask you to do, unfortunately, because this is a challenge is to introduce yourself. What would you like us to know about you?  

Somebody who’s never met you? 

Terry: Well, my name is Terry Santiel. Terrell Santiel is my legal name and I’m born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Um, I went to school all over this city. I am, I guess I’m a rolling stone of Los Angeles. You know, where my mom and dad were when I was growing up, my mom and dad were separated. So I moved a lot. That’s why I sent him a rolling stone of Angeles. Cause I’ve lived everywhere from the Valley, to Compton to Watts, to South central and now I’m here near Hollywood. So anyway,  

Amazing. I love it here. That you’re, uh, a native Ava is as well.  

Yeah, I think I know that about Ava. Yes.  

Isn’t it odd that things that we’ve learned about each other and the things that we remember and the things that we, that we, don’t.  Ava and I were just talking the other day about how our memories are so selective. Like I remember the oddest things about being on tour and then full-blown chapters that are just, I have zero recollection.  

I do remember one thing about you on tour when you were watching the tour bus bus to carwash. 

That’s amazing.  

Yes! We washed the bus! Terry thank you for reminding me. And actually that is, is one of the things that I would like to talk about on this, but, but maybe we’ll get there oddly enough. I talk about car washes on the podcast a lot. Not because they’re interesting, but because I live across the street from one,

Literally across the street 

I hear it often. I don’t think, I don’t think we can hear it today. I’m in the booth as it were. Um, but, but let’s, uh, let’s go pre carwash for a second. Some people listening might not even know what we mean by that, but we’ll get there.  

Ava: I would love to know where your lover percussions came from. 

Well, that’s a very interesting question. My, um, family grew up basically playing percussion, my uncles, my cousins, my brothers, everybody. Sort of kind of played, but with me they sorta kinda like wouldn’t let me play. They told me, I didn’t know. You know? And then they set out to be a challenge for me to learn. And then I learned, and I got better than everybody. I hate to say that, but better. I got a little bit more skilled than the rest of them. And my career started from that point. But man, I can remember my uncle junior. He would like, we would play on the bottom of oatmeal boxes, the Quaker oatmeal boxes at like three years old, four years old, just didn’t know we were doing just, it was fun and it was noise cause they had to real drums. So yeah, it started at a very young age. I was like 13 though  

Okay. So it started young, but when did it take off, like when did you start getting paid to do this? How did that happen?  

Started getting paid at a really early age. I, um, well first, uh, before I guess I must’ve been 16 and my mother used to sign for me to be able to play in clubs, the local bands on the waiver. So we could play because they sold alcohol in these places and, you know, go in and play with some of the bands. And then I ended up getting my own, you know, being in a band that I was involved in. At the time the band was called Total concept Unlimited 

That’s a good name

TCU. 

I really loved that name.  Total concept, unlimited LLC incorporated unlimited.  

That’s a point. Maybe I’ll start LLC with that TLC total.  

Come on. Okay. So, so we get a tiny picture of the early days and then Rose Royce happened. So you’re one of the founding members of the group Rose Royce with that mega hit carwash, uh, which I will not sing because although I did do my vocal warmups today, the voice of the little subpar, there it is. Don’t let it stop please. Uh, that crack crack, crack, crack, Terry that’s you. And my question about that track is as you were writing that song, as you came up with that mega catchy super clap, did you know that that was going to be a hit, like as you were making it, did you know?  

No. When you know, when you’re doing these things, when they’re, when they’re happening and they’re in their infancy, you don’t know what’s going to happen with these songs. And that, by the way, that song was written by Norman Whitfield, if you guys Google Norman Whitfield, you’ll see his catalog is pretty extensive and like that. So anyway, but yeah, but those are my hands on that hand clap that you hear all the time. 

That is remarkable. I just think thats so cool

Let me say this about Rose Royce. Since we went there, Total Concept Unlimited became Rose Royce. We changed the name to Rose Royce.  

Oh see, now I’m conflicted because I like both names. Uh, and when did, what brought about the change?  

Well, we met Norman Whitfield, the producer, and we ended up getting a girl in the group and we decided to change the name to Rose Royce. So a lot of people got it mixed up with Rolls Royce, the car, right. It’s actually Rose Royce like the flower. 

Like the flower. So that’s an important distinction. Yes. So I did a little, a little digging and I know that you were one of the, uh, early incorporators of using electronic instruments. Like you would use an electronic drum pad. I would love to hear a little bit about the differences making music then versus making music now.  

Okay. Making music now. Well, let’s start with making music now. Making music now is a little easier with all of the computers and all of the easy ways of making music. Now you could play, say a shaker for four bars, and then you could copy it and paste it, make it go throughout the whole song and cut it and chop it back in the day we had to physically play all of the parts. Whether you said play as shaker as an example, whether you sit there and play shaker 10 times on a five minute song, you know, your wrist will be on fire because the weight it gets heavy, you know, and holding your arm in a certain position for so long and not trying to mess up a tempo or anything like that. And then a lot of times it wasn’t your fault that you had to do it, you know, as many times as you’re going to doing it because we recorded everything together with multiple people. So one person could make a mistake that starts the whole thing over. So that’s how that works out. Yeah. Even back when we did carwash, when we did carwash, there were, um, before we got it all the way, right. I think there were 47 tapes. So that song had to be played that many times with a whole band together. A whole group of people together from top to bottom. Yeah. Well, if we even got to the bottom, right, right.  

Top to Middle. Yeah. Wow. Okay. This is, that’s giving me flashbacks of, I think the same is true for dance in video, especially. That’s flashbacks to the opening scene of Lala land, which is this big ensemble highway moment. And it’s a oner and to get all the way through, without everybody messing up, like camera, props that yeah.  

So speaking a la la land, the percussionist that was on the back of the truck is my cousin. 

Get out of town! Yeah.  So much fun in that moment, we got Liz Imperio dancing in front of that truck. That’s so cool. The entertainment world is the size of a tiny acorn. At very least it could fit into the back of a truck. Um, okay. So that’s one of the key differences is like the duration or the actual recording process. Having to be a steady all the way through. I’m sure that damn near everything else has changed as well. But maybe this is the better question. What has stayed the same?  

What has stayed the same? 

Um, nothing.

My, my drum set stayed the same  

Because you’ve got it tuned in. You’ve got that.  

That set up is nice. 

Well, you know, the drums I used for my real recording sessions. I used the same drum set I use since they, the first drums I ever owned and the original Mahogany Congas, and they’re all everybody’s stuff. I mean, I played on a lot of records, but they’re from carwash back in the day, you know,  

Will you name drop a little bit for us. Yeah. 

Tell us you’ve, you’ve played on a lot of records, but don’t, don’t be shy. I mean some Motown classics, the Temptations, Smokey Robbinson.  

Yes. Yes. Actually the temptations were, those were temptations was the first group I’ve ever recorded with. And interesting about that story is the Temptations Runaway child, running wild song was the first song I learned how to play on congas, you know, like very young.  

And then, and then you found yourself working for them.  

Yeah. It was the first thing that I did professionally you recording wise. So did the 1990 album with the Temptations. Yeah, it was, it was amazing experience back then, but the same drums are used on like all of that stuff from Marvin Gaye to Smokie. Can you everybody’s yeah. Even recordings with Berry Gordy over there. I did a lot of Mo-Town stuff. It was amazing. I had a, I had a great time over at man.  

So funky that music. Oh, but you also, you, I don’t want to, um, pigeon hole you or, or pin you as being this old school guy. Um, we obviously know you from touring with JT, but you play for Janet Jackson, um, and, and, uh, a host of others. So your, your musical talents and sensibilities are not, I couldn’t put a date on them. 

You transcend generations 

So how, how is it that you do that?  

I just try to stay current and I don’t feel like I know everything or think that I know everything I’m always progressing and learning, you know? And I think that’s what keeps me current, you know? Um, now, like right now I’m like, uh, I’ve sorta kinda like figured out the whole trap thing and  

Yes, what is it? Please explain it to me.  

Well, what I’m trying to do now is a corporate rate, low am, percussion stuff to match the stuff that goes on within those rhythms and groups. That trap is all about, you know, it’s and the whole trap thing. It’s like, it’s fascinating to me because it’s all low end, and A lot of people can’t hear that frequency, but it moves them. You know what I mean? That’s what I mean about  

Figuring it out on a Sonic level, you’re figuring out the trends and how to do it and how to make complimenting things, right?  

Yeah. Yeah. Like I can do it. And I know how I’m just trying to figure out how to incorporate my instrument in it and make it like, make it crazy like I’m in that process now. How about that?  

Cool. I can’t wait to hear what comes out of it. I know  

This, this is the reason why you stand the test of time is because you, you keep current and you’re always learning, like you said, and that is fascinating to see and a good lesson to take away. Honestly,  

I agree absolutely 

The thing is too, is just to stay humble. That’s the, that’s the main thing. Stay humble and try to not, I guess, try not to feel like you’re more than you are. That’s the best, better way, uh, way of putting it. But then when I say that, there’s, I see a lot of people all the time on a lot of tours and throughout my whole career, they think they’re as important as the artist. And you’re not, you’re there to compliment the artists, you know what I mean? And do what you do. But I see a lot of people, you know, over the years just doing things that just in my mind make absolutely no sense at all, you know, with the life. Because when you go on through life, you’ve got to, you’ve got to set up your future, you know, and a lot of people don’t do that. They live for now. They want to go to all them clubs. They want to be a part of the, I call it the hype crowd. They want to be, you know, they’re not artists, they’re just a part of something, you know? So,  

You know, that’s, that’s a lovely segue. We had planned to talk about touring. I think one of the areas where musicians and dancers overlap almost in an identical type of way is an a tour scenario. A dancers’ experience of tour is very similar to a musician’s experience of tour. You’re away from your loved ones. You’re unnaturally like living, eating, sleeping, you know, breathing, working with your, you know, uh, cohorts colleagues. Um, and I think that’s really unnatural. And I think you do it very, very well. How many, how many tours have you been on Terry? Is that even a number you can count?  

You know, I’ve been torn since forever.  

Did Terry did Jesus’s Birthday Tour.  

I’ve been on several tours, but I’ve not been on a lot of tours because I will pick and choose who I like to work with. And a lot of them have worked for, you know, I’ve worked with them for a long period of time, You know? And you could take JT as an example, you know, I’ve been working with JT since 2002, it’s been 20 years. It doesn’t even seem like that long. And in the same, same thing, you know, with like Janet, I worked with her for at least, at least 10 years, you know, and Mary J Blige, I worked for her for a long time. I mean, you know, Barry White, I was part of the whole Love Unlimited Orchestra. And, you know, I worked in that for a long time. You know, I haven’t been on tour with a lot of different people. I’ve been on tour a long time with different people.  

Right. You can be on many tours with a few of the same people. Right. You mentioned, you mentioned staying out of the hype, um, is that one of the secrets to touring? Well, to like not combusting or going broke? I mean, trust me a tour is a great way to make money, but it’s also a great way to spend it. So what are the secrets

If you’re caught up in the hype? You know what I mean? I, um, I try to do my thing. I tried to study and learn a lot of different things and then I try to stay out of harm’s way. And what I mean by that is you could see people doing things that, you know, are going to get them fired. So I sorta kind of stay out of the way, you know, like, okay, I see that I know where that’s going to lead because I’ve seen it so many times I’ll move, I’ll move on. I’ll go another direction. So yeah,  

You learn from people’s mistakes, just as much as you can learn from their successes. I learned that on tour as well.  

And then what are you going to, I mean, I, I learned, I made when I was very young and we were talking once Lionel Richie and myself, and he was telling me one of his secrets to success is not to be, not to be too familiar with everybody, you know? And I sort of kind of live by that. And you guys know that too. Everybody knows me, but you don’t know a whole lot about me. You know what I mean? I just try not to stay too familiar because it, it sort of keeps you out of harm’s way. You know, people have a lot to say about you, then it could, it could go either way, it could go negative or positive. Right. We’ll just sorta kind of stay out of the way.  

Well, speaking of knowing about you, I remember on tour that you were a collector of Air Force Ones, and I wanted to know, do you still have a love for the Air Force One? And how many do you have?  

No, I used to do that and I used to, like I said, I was caught up. 

If there’s something to get caught up in, I’d say it could be worse. Yeah.  

Well, you know, it was like one of those six now look at it. I was like, Oh, that’s a waste of money. But there’s like this kid that lives down in San Diego and he sells and collects like sneakers. So I ended up giving him a bunch of that stuff just so he could make some money. You know, he’s a little entrepreneur, I think it’s like 12 or 13 years old. His name is Eric, you know, and love this. Like, go make some money because a lot of that stuff I was buying and collecting back then and Ava I’m never get rewarded ****. I know there was a thing. And I was like, Oh, I got all of this stuff. So I stopped minimalizing my life. You know what I mean? And just getting, I have no clutter in my house, you know what I mean? It’s just, if I don’t use it, it’s gone. If I don’t wear it in a year, it’s gone. I have no problem taking it to the shelter and giving it to somebody that’s going to use it. You know what I mean? I don’t throw anything like that in the trash. I’m not going to try to go on eBay and put the stuff on sale. You know what I mean?  

Terry, you are so patched in to the questions that I wanted to ask you today because I would love to talk to you about money. Um, I remember being on tour and you being the voice of reason so often, uh, like, you know, you’re, you’re being smart out here on the road, save your money. You knew I was, uh, I think Ava and I were both in the same situation. We got rid of our, um, apartments when we went on tour. So we had almost zero expenses and you encouraged us both buy a house, get yourself some investment properties. Um, you were really were a voice of financial reason to me at a very early age. And I would love for you to just shed a little wisdom on that. Um, because most of my listeners are young artists and I simply don’t believe that we need to be starving. I believe we can be thriving and I believe we can live under roofs that we own. Um, and I know you believe that too. You could you talk a little bit about, uh, your thoughts about money, how you manage it and how you’ve grown your wealth.  

I think that everybody should think, think for the future, you know what I mean? Where are you going to be in 10 years? Where do you want to be in 10 years and establish yourself. Uh, when I say establish yourself, I mean, set up your future, set up your foundation, which I believe is the most important thing, is where you live. You know what I mean? And if you could get yourself in a position where you could own something, rather than paying rent, you’re in a better position. You know, I’ve got, you know, I mean, I’ve, you know, but I’ve got, you know, different income properties, but I always encourage people who live under my roofs, you know, to buy something. I will not hold somebody to a lease that I know I can hold them to if I wanted to. If they’re like, wow, I found this out like, Oh, cool, I’ll let you go do your thing. I’m happy for you. You know? And how, you know, find somebody else to occupy that space because it is a business. And for me, when you’re doing something like that, even if you dove into something like I dove into, like with real estate, you have to take it very seriously and not look at it. And you have to look at it as a business, you know, get all kinds of equity and capital and money and taxes. A lot of things come along with the home ownership thing. So, but you need to set up your life and you need to build your future and you shouldn’t be playing around with it because people who played around with it found out how serious it was. They when this whole COVID hit it’s like, now you can’t work. Now you getting kicked out of your apartments, you know, and there’s all of these other things come into play as like, wow, what am I going to do for money? You know, what is it? Unemployment checks. And I can imagine it’s not a good feeling. You know what I mean? And it’s not a good thing. So I just think that we all have to be conscious of what we’re going to do with our lives going forward.  

This is, this is perfect. I want to, I want to ask a question. I’m sorry to interrupt. I think one of the notions that I myself, I had this thought and I’m sure a lot of my peers in similar situations thought, well, if I have to focus on a building, I won’t be able to focus on my craft. Or if I buy a, if, if I make my home, my business or this income property, my business it’ll take me away from the thing that I really love. And I love that you’re the person saying this because you are a living breathing example that that doesn’t have to be the case. I mean, surely could you get distracted? Absolutely. There’s enough. There’s enough enough, you know, uh, things of being a homeowner to distract you for a very long time, but you have been more working, more touring, more learning, more building than anybody I know. And you’re still doing all those other things on the sides. It’s possible to do both without losing focus on one or the other.  

You set your foundation. 

POP OUT:

Okay my friends, DW here popping out with a quickness, because we’re getting a little technical here with some financial jargon. Talking about residual payment structures and so on and so on. And it dawned on me, that we have never really gone deep on money on the podcast. So, I am deciding to dedicate 4 of the 5 Mondays in March to money, March. Were we will get into all things Dancer contracts, choreographer contracts, money mindset and the difference between math and drama. So buckle up and get ready for that, but in the mean time lets jump back in with Ava and Terry. 

**

But go ahead. What was your question?  

Yeah. Um, so Ava and I, and a lot of dancers in our, our field. It’s, it’s not uncommon to work on a two day shoot for a commercial. And the, the amount you make for those two days of work is not, not a ton of money, but the residual income you make from that point that’s, that’s, that’s starting to look, that’s a real number, right? So you’re you play a, you’re a session player as well. Am I calling that the right thing?  

Yes, it, yeah. And I try to write it. Yeah. Session Artist.  

And how does that look for you? Do you feel like that’s a better use of your time and talent?  

Let me tell you, let me tell you something. Like I said, I’ve run everything through the union and I do a lot of, and have done a lot of recording sessions like throughout the year. So this was just a story. I’ll just throw it out there. My neighbor down the street picks up my mail when I’m on the road, things that are important, she FedEx them to me. Like I said, as part of the business, you have FedEx numbers and all these things. So things that get to you the next day, you have to have these things set up. She told me once, if you’re like, dude, I have never seen anybody get as many checks as you in my life. 

That residual income is real. 

You know, and I’m not saying that in a braggadocious kind of way or anything like that, it’s just, when you set yourself up a certain way, when you’re young, everything has to be processed through you because these companies don’t want to lose their livelihood to get sued or anything like that. So you just have to do it, you know, and it may seem like at the time, I, well, I’m spending money on this, but it pays off. It really does. It pays off. I get calls from people. Sometimes I do just the song you played in this, on this. I heard it in this new movie. And for me, since I’m in the union, it’s just a matter of calling SAG AFTRA or the musician union.And saying, I was in this movie and their attorneys go after the money, their incentive is they get paid. They get their little portion of whatever they collect from me. So, man, I found, I found tens of thousands of dollars  

Because you’re smart again because you treat it like a business and you know how to go after it and when to go after it and where to go to get it. And I think there’s not much help in like in a — man, My husband and I were just talking about this the other night, a lot of big labels put tons of money into copyright claims. You’re not allowed to use this song on Instagram. You’re not allowed to use that song in this. And there’s a lot of money tied up in copyright. And it’s only any good if somebody actually makes a claim, like it’s only, you’re only protected if you’re looking out for yourself. So it’s, as you, as much as it is about having a union for protection, it doesn’t mean that the ball is not, is totally not in your court. You do still have responsibility to keep an eye in an ear out for your work that might be out in the world.  

And a lot of times people won’t tell you, they use it. You just have to sorta kind of stumble upon it. The union doesn’t go out and try to track that stuff for you. You know what I mean? So a lot of times you know, you rely on your friends and loved ones and people, you know, that you’ve made contacts with. And sometimes it could be a music exec somewhere in, Hey, you know, and they will help you out. I heard this and that, you know, and they will turn your onto where your stuff is being played or used without your consent. That’s huge. Yeah. So that’s sorta kind of one of those things you have to stay on top of you. Can’t just slide and go to the club.  

So, um, I remember Ava and I got involved more heavily with SAG-AFTRA around the same time. And for me, that was after the future sex left show tour, I was a union member before the tour and the tour was over, lasted over a year. I didn’t do any union gigs during that time. And I lost my membership. I had to rejoin after the fact. And I remember being pissed about having to rejoin because that, you know, as I mentioned before, the, the, um, to become a member is not cheap. And so I’m doing it twice. I was frustrated. So I decided with my arms folded that I was going to go into that union building and find out what they’re all about. So I went to one of these, you know, one of their member — member, only meetings. And I just fell in love with so many of the people that work there. I started seeing the member, or I started seeing the union as a membership. And that’s, and that’s the truth. The union is made up of its members. It’s only as good as we are.  

Real people, yes!  

So it became less a them versus us and more of a we. And that really changed the scope for me, um, changed my relationship and it helped me do more for the union and in return, I’m getting so much out of it. Yeah. It’s awesome.  

Yeah. I’ve got these numbers down. I know who to call now. Question my phone. Yes. Yes. 

I’ve got numbers like that too. So yes. Yeah, yeah. And they’re really helpful, man. They’ll stick there. They’ll stick their neck out for you and they will follow through. They won’t just say, okay. Yeah, we’ll get to that. Then you have to call them two weeks later. No, they’re calling you back the next day.  

I will say I’ve had both. I’ve had, I’ve had both experiences where if you stay on, then they stay on. If you stay on and drop off the face of the earth and stop returning your emails then,  

But the people you have that you know, now that you could contact, they get right back with you.  

Oh, for sure. After those relationships have been made 100%,  

The know when Dana’s calling it’s business,  

Um, okay. Terry, this is brilliant. Thank you so much for offering, you know, my husband calls you “The Real Deal Terry Santiel” Yeah.  

That came from Marty. 

Daniel’s still, he might, he might hate me for saying this. He still credits you for introducing him to the single product that brought, I don’t, I don’t know if I can say the most comfort or joy in his life, but, and by the way, my husband is not a person who prioritizes comfort. He’s fine with not being comfortable, but you introduced him to this little mechanical, uh, tweezer thing, like hair, a hair, trimmer.

Yes the nose trimmer! Let me tell you about those nose trimmers. I’ve seen people, man. And it’s like, if you don’t keep those nose hairs trimmed,

Its all you’re going to stare at 

They catch things and it’s, and it’s crazy because if you’re having a conversation with somebody that got something in their nose your focus is not on the conversation.  

Its snot 

Should I say something? Should I not? Is it going to move? You’re distracted.  

It’s a crazy, it’s a crazy thing, you know? And then, and then that could be sensitive. You know what I mean? It’s the type of person you would say that to. How are they? There’s all kinds of things that led me to think about another crazy story. I was in a, I was presenting some songs to a music exec once this was many years ago. And I’m not going to say any names, we’re going to start with not saying any names. So I’m in the office, they’re playing the song. It’s a woman. Right. And she’s in a very high power position. We’re in her little small office in this building. I’m being so political.  

I see, I see where this, and I don’t like it. 

She farted, but she..

I did not, I did not expect that.

But it wasn’t silent giant. You know, it was one of those. It wasn’t like I would rather, she did a regular fart.  

Silent, giant hahaha  

So the rooms filled up amazing air. Right.  

How do you know this person? Is it only the two of you? How do you know it was her?  

Well for us in this office. There’s so now in my head, I’m going okay. Is she checking me to see what type of person I am? Am I going to say anything  

Its a part of the audition.  

Was it an accident? And maybe I should. So all of this is going through my head. So I’m just, Oh my gosh, I’m stuck. You know, I don’t know. Okay. Well, how do you deal with this? 

What did you do? 

What I ended up doing was saying something about it. So, you know, when the song finished playing, I was like, okay, are we address the elephant in the room? Those are the words. And that’s it.  

Incredible 

Well, that’s a great, that’s a good one. The elephant in the room.  

I didn’t know what to do. I mean, I really didn’t know. And by me saying something was probably the worst thing because she took it really personally and she acted like nothing was wrong and nothing happened. And that’s how that ended. It couldn’t be any worse.  

Terry that is not the story I was expecting This Terry, this might be the first official fart story on the podcast.  

My, well, it happened,  

You know what I like, you know, what I like though about that is that you gave the opportunity for her to ignore it. You said, are we going to address the elephant in the room? Instead of did you fart? Like you gave a little grace, you give a little grace. And, uh, and then she took it and ran.  

And that was how that ended. And I was on the project, you know, and it was a pretty big project. It was a movie thing. So,

Oh God, I’d still say you’re winning. So it’s okay. You’re winning. It’s a great story to have.  

Um, it’s it. That is a great story. And I’m this close to letting us end on on that story. Okay. I do have one more question. You you’ve been around for a long time. You’ve done a lot of incredible things. You’ve, you’ve not only built a foundation, but uh, a fully sustaining thing. It’s not just the foundation. It’s, uh, it’s the whole body. It’s all of it. And I’m wondering if there’s anything that you haven’t done that you want to do, like a, a project that you’re looking forward to, or a prediction for music that might happen in the future.  

Um, you know, I’m open for anything that may come my way. You know what I mean? As far as helping other people out or doing things like that, I’m at the point now where I want to pay forward or can pay it forward, you know, and I’m into talking to people and just, if I can sweat a little bit of knowledge or insight on, on something for somebody, those are the things that are important, you know? Um, yeah. You know, I have money coming in all the time, so that’s not an issue. So you don’t have to about. How you’re gonna, yeah. You don’t have to worry about the hustle. So you just, you help you help everybody until the next thing comes along. And then you go move on that. I’m never going to stop touring and making money or doing anything like that. I’m going to do this till I’m 90. That’s my retirement. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I could be, I could be Uncle T. You know what I mean? I can be the old, you know, I don’t care about that.  

When you look when you’re 90, you’re probably going to look in your sixties, come on. Like, you know, I could get away with a whole lot.  

Yeah, yeah. You too. Look at you, man. You look like you’re still 20 years old.  

It’s true. You do. And you got a baby.  Terry did you know this? 

Say that again. 

Did you know that? Ava has a little one. 

Yes I did. Congratulations. Ava, thank you for that. Somebody cause you guys have like three, you guys had babies at the same time. Tammy had a baby. Nancy has a little one. 

And AJ. 

And AJ! You guys like look at you guys, all moms and you know what the best now the beauty of your life starts because now you have another. And that’s the other thing. Cause I, I grew up doing the same thing. I had to raise a son through all of these other things that I was doing. So now you have to balance all of it together. You’ve got to balance your career, your life, marriages, all of these things are all factored into life, but you all have to move forward together.  

Terry, do you have a guiding principle in terms of balance? Is there, is there a compass that keeps you, you know?  

Yeah. Keep an open mind. You know what I mean? And don’t get caught up in your own personal ego. Cause a lot of people get caught up in their own personal ego and, and everything goes crazy at that point because people get stubborn and stuck in their, in their reality that may not even be a reality, but yeah. Yes.  

That’s huge. And that’s helpful. I will remember that as I am in the market for maybe a goldfish, uh,  Not, not quite,  Not quite to the human being point yet. My husband and I are talking about getting a Roomba, one of those, uh, vacuums that lives it own life. Yeah. We’re thinking about it or thinking about it. But I know  

I used to have, um, a person to come clean the household once, once a week, but I don’t even do that anymore. Since this whole COVID date. I’m like, huh, I can do this **** myself. So I’ve got all of this time.  

I Got it. 

Yeah. And it’s unfortunate for them cause they’re not making as much money, but I still paid for that one day as much as for two weeks, you know what I mean?  

It’s safer, safer for you.  

I don’t want, you know, cause I don’t want people in the house. It’s crazy, but it’s just this is spotless now.

I was just going to say you, you keep a clean house. You keep a clean nose clean. Clean Life. Clean life. He’s clean. He’s clean. Well, Terry, I cannot thank you enough for joining us today.  

I don’t even want to get off the phone.  

Well, we do have, I mean, we might call this episode rap, but I have a special question that I need to ask you. I ask all of my questions. I ask all of my quests. I ask this question to all of my guests. Um, and this might, this might be a whole another conversation. So I will put a pin in this one. Although I would love for you to be able to tell the listeners where to find you, if they’re interested in finding more of your work or in talking to you or in, uh, renting a property from you possibly. So what’s, what’s the best way for people to find you.  

You could just, you can email me. How about that? That’s the easiest and it’s um, email address is my name Terrell —  T-E-R-R-A-L with, four Zs — Z-Z-Z- Z @aol.com. (terralzzzz@aol.com) And it will come through 

Can we find you on instagram? 

Yeah. I do have an IG. You know what? I’ve got it. I’ve got to be quite honest about it. I got bored with it. You know what I mean? And I haven’t really posted or done too much on that. I’ll look at it from time to time Facebook. I will never go on, I do have Facebook account and you know, but it’s, everything’s at my name, but it’s @TerrySantiel everything’s @TerrySantiel and it’s a last name is spelled S-A- N- T -I- E- L. And Terry is with a Y — T -E -R- R- Y.  

I’ll be sure to put that in the show notes to the episode as well. So everybody knows where to find  

Yeah. Twitter, uh, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are all the same.  

Yeah. Okay. Awesome. Well, thank you Terry. I couldn’t thank you enough. I adore you. This was the best, so much fun. My cheeks hurt  

For your listeners. If you go on tour with anybody, don’t get caught up in the celebrity a hundred percent.  

How do they do that? Terry tell them how to do it or how to not tell them how to do that.  

I guess that’s on each individual. You know what I mean? Because everybody’s paths is going to be a little bit different in their connections with the different things that occur. But you just have to, I guess the way to do that is just to understand that you are not the artists.  

Hmm. Yeah. I, I think one of the other like Ava, I’ll, I’ll speak for our relationship from my behalf of our relationship, but that, that was one tremendously grounding thing for me was having a real relationship with a person that wasn’t about visibility or, uh, a red rope anywhere or a fancy outfit like that, that friendship kept me very in touch with myself, my, my actions, my words, um, and it was fruitful and it was real and it was beautiful. And so having a real relationship on the road, other than just a relationship with the crowd or a really relationship with the club or a relationship with the money, that was huge for me. And the thing, this, this wasn’t until 2020, but on the 2020 tour, Terry, you remember I had, I did my daily videos. I had, I had a personal project that I was as accountable for as I was for my gig. And that was also tremendously helpful.  

I remember being in Scotland and watching you dance with the guys,  

A Scottish bagpipe guy that was a good video. I like that one. 

I may have been holding the camera  

You Probably where I’m going to find that I’ll put that in the show notes as well. Yeah, that was a good one. That that’s, that’s huge though. Like stay, don’t get caught up in the hype and there are a thousand different ways to do that. Um, it’s actually quite simple actually, because there’s one way to get caught up in the hype, but there’s many ways to not. Have a project, find a friend, you know, read, invest in the future, make decisions from the future, with the future in mind, not from the present moment and the present moment, always, almost always once the immediate gratification of like go to the club, get a drink, have the expensive mood, uh, have you.  

And I’m not saying, but don’t not do those things. You just, 

Everything in moderation.

Yeah. Doing the moderation that’s you know what I mean? It’s like, ah, I don’t really need to be there tonight. I shouldn’t be doing right. And you know what, let me just say this to me. I don’t, I’m always, I got like me and they used to say like with me one night, how I ended up getting in to that whole real estate thing is I saw one of those infomercials on TV and I was like, Oh, you can make money off of other people’s money. And I was like, well, I don’t need other people’s money to make money. How do you do that? And I tried it, I flipped the property. And I think I made like my first one maybe $40,000. I was like, Oh, that was easy. That was fun. And that only took a couple of months to make 40 grand. So then I did another one and another one and I ended up, um, you know, in the course of a year, you know, I did well.  

I mean, I love you so much.  

I could have been at a club and miss that information. That’s my point. So anyway. Okay. That’s okay. Sorry. I know we’ve got to get off, so  

We’re doing it. I appreciate you. I just think the world of you. Thank you, Terry.  

Thank you. Love you too. 

Love you so much. Bye bye.  

Okay, so that was  “the real deal” Terry Santiel. Terry’s right.  

That was so much fun. It was wonderful reconnecting with him.  

I just can’t get over the fact that the same guy that gave us real estate advice was telling us fart stories  

Pretty incredible.

So good. Um, what were your biggest takeaways?  

Oh, my biggest takeaway is that he is literally a part of history. He is history. He is a living legend, and I know we tend to use that word loosely, but he really is. He has stood the test of time. Um, he’s, we’ve got so much to glean from him. I just really enjoyed this little sit down here.  

I couldn’t agree more. He he’s, he is himself and his work have been hugely prominent in the past, in the present. And from the sounds of it, he’s really investing in the future. He’s figuring it out, I adore. I’m very happy to be sharing that episode with you all. Um, I hope that you enjoyed hearing from Terry as much as we enjoy talking to him, I wish you could have seen all the faces, just smiles.  

And I think we said we surmised this episode with Terry as clean it up, read up and keep an open mind.  

Clean it up, read up, keep keeping up. That’s it. Yup. That’s it. Those simple things. And you too will still be producing top tier content when you’re, how old is Terry? Do we even know? 

I didn’t ask, you know what? 

This might be a moment I’m going to go ahead and I’m going to check the Googles.  

Okay. So Terry’s around 72. We just took 15 minutes to do a math break around 72.

We had to research. 

Yep. That’s true. That’s true. And we want to save you time so we didn’t share with you how long it took us to do that math. So that puts him in, in around the same ballpark is Miss Toni Basil. Yes. Um, 

I mean they are a fountain of youth. 

It’s true. That that’s really important to notice because I don’t like, and, and, and the thing that unifies them, is this ever learning yes this ever practicing and I do think it’s an open open-mindedness open-mindedness yeah. All right. I’m open. That’s it. I’m open. I’m going into the world open. I’m staying forever young. Um, and I, I hope that you all are forever inspired by that. It was so much fun. Ava. Thank you so much for joining me. 

Thank you for having me! This was fun.  

My pleasure. We’ll do it again. Sometime love you to bits.

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 or review because your words move me to number two thing. 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. 

BONUS EPISODE: Half-Time Show Spectacular

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
BONUS EPISODE: Half-Time Show Spectacular
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Over 100 million viewers world wide, 6 minutes to set up, about $833,000.00 PER MINUTE in production costs, NO SECOND TAKES. NO PRESSURE RIGHT?

This is what I live for. This is what WE live for. This is (literally) what Champions are made of. This episode is a collection of spectacular Super Bowl Halftime Show Stories from a few of my favorite dance types, Victor Rojas, Brittany Parks, and Chris Dupre

JT’s 2018 SB Halftime Show: https://www.youtube.com/watch/2z3EUY1aXdY

Dana and Team Behind the Scenes 2018: https://www.instagram.com/p/BeYSiX6gv2I/?igshid=ztjvng95po40

Janet Jackson 2004 Halftime Show: https://youtu.be/JzipWoXgVm0

Lady Gaga 2017 Halftime Show: https://youtu.be/mjrdywp5nyE

Beyonce 2013 Halftime Show: https://youtu.be/suIg9kTGBVI

Diana Ross 1996 Halftime Show: https://youtu.be/RCEY7kXDvCQ

Ep. #58 The Sliding Scale of Commitment

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #58 The Sliding Scale of Commitment
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This episode is all about mining one precious resource, COMMITMENT.   The dictionary defines Commitment as “The state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc.” That is a very neat and tidy way to explain such a dynamic spectrum of being!  I see commitment as a sliding scale, and I see the WTMM Team dialing up our commitment to racial equity.  Happy first episode of Black History Month!  We are thrilled to be celebrating, now and ALWAYS. 

Quick Links:

Karida’s Griffith’s 3RD Program: https://karida-griffith.mykajabi.com/R3D-enrollmentFEB2021-page

A Brief History of John Baldessari: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eU7V4GyEuXA

Transcript:

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

All right. All right. Welcome everybody. This is words that move me, I’m Dana. I’m stoked about this. Um, it is black history month and I have some big plans for upcoming episodes. I am so excited to be sharing the mic with some of my heroes, uh, several historians and living, breathing history, period. I am jazzed about it. And my goal is to do more than drop names and dates of important people in places and things, and just hope that you remember them. Um, my goal is to really put that history into context, uh, to make it sticky and to engage in meaningful conversations around it. So I am committed. I am committed to education and celebration of black history, and that my friend, is really big and really, really broad. So this week I want to start by talking about commitment period in and of itself. Um, this episode will *blah blah*. This episode will pair really, really nicely with episode 55, uh, where we discussed resolutions and doing daily. So if you haven’t already dug into that, you might start there, um, and bounce on back here, or you might stay here and then bounce on back there either way, bounce around. You’re going to dig. Um, okay, so let’s, let’s talk commitment. 

I did a little Googlage and I found that the online dictionary, I believe it was Miriam Webster says commitment is defined as the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause activity, et cetera. Commitment is defined as the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, et cetera. Now, I like to think of commitment. Um, the state or quality of dedication as being a sliding scale, there are degrees of commitment to a thing. So maybe, maybe zero is like, not at all committed no effort or interest in a cause or activity. This is my ballet slippers still in a bag in my closet, but actually then again,  that again. Now that I say that out loud, I do have ballet slippers in a bag in my closet. So maybe I would give that like a 0.001 on the commitment scale. It is, it is like the essence of commitment. Like maybe it rubbed elbows with commitment, but it isn’t actually commitment. It is the intent of being committed, but not committed itself. Um, anyways, on, on that sliding scale, zero is, you know, zero action, zero effort, and 10 is absolutely possessed, all in, interested, invested and activated, taking massive action toward a cause or activity. In this metric of measurement, Um, I would place Beyonce, Superbowl halftime show performance from 2013 at an 11. Um, by the way, I’m not a football fan, but I did recently watch all of the recorded Superbowl halftime shows in history that are on the internet. Um, I learned so, so, so much by the way, lessons from super bowl halftime shows coming very soon. Um, speaking of which Abel, AKA the weekend have a freaking ball this weekend. Oh, no pun, intended. Um, Oh, also I hear that Amanda Gorman will be the first poet ever to perform the Superbowl. Come on for progress! That’s amazing. I am so thrilled by that. I’m really excited. Okay. Back to commitment, focusing on commitment.

I have, um, I’ve talked before on the podcast about John Baldessari, one of my favorite artists, and there’s a video online, a YouTube video called a brief history of John Baldessari. Um, yeah, you can find it on YouTube. It’s simply one of my favorite things on the internet. It will be in the show notes, but one of my favorite parts of that, uh, of that short film is where John Baldessari tells us three things. He believes every young artist should know. Number one, talent is cheap. Number two, you have to be possessed, which you can not will. And number three, be in the right place at the right time. Now I don’t typically like to argue with geniuses. Um, but I do want to talk about that second point. You have to be possessed, which you can not will. I think that I agree you cannot will being possessed. You either are possessed or you aren’t, but I do think you can, will excitement. And I certainly think you can, will commitment to me. I being possessed by something, it means to be taken over by it, like inhabited by it, against your will even, um, but like somehow out of control. And to be honest, I don’t love the idea of being out of control. I can handle the idea of being the vessel or the conduit, but I’m not thrilled about the idea of being out of control or under something else’s control. So to be totally honest, I don’t think that I am possessed by dance. I think I really, really love it, but there are fully days on end where I do not boogie and I don’t make that mean that I don’t love dance. So do you have to be possessed to make brilliant, not boring art? Maybe. Will you get to a John Baldessari or Beyonce level of impact without being possessed? Maybe not. But do you have to be possessed to make it in the dance industry? No. I think that that is actually a common misconception that can scare a lot of up and comers. Um, this idea that you have to be possessed or obsessed in order to make it. I, I hear that a lot. I hear like “I really, really love dance, but I also kind of love writing and I’m really digging standup and Oh, I love fashion. Maybe someday I’ll have my own clothing line, but man, I probably won’t make it as a dancer if I can’t just focus on dance, right? Like, should I even try?” Um, now I, I don’t like giving definitive yeses or nos to questions like that, but I will say that I know a lot of industry heavy hitters that do not eat, sleep, breathe, sweat, dance, they have other interests. They may love photography or fashion or film or cooking or simply eating and drinking as much as they actually love dancing. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t committed to dance. In other words, if commitment is like a dimmer switch and we have this sliding scale where possessed is the maximum, then I would say yes, more light makes more things visible, more light makes more things possible. Like try finding your keys with the lights off and then try finding your keys with the lights on brighter is righter, but to make it and more importantly to make change, I do not think you have to be possessed.  I think you have to be committed. You have to be willing to try again. You have to be willing to get it wrong. You have to probably be willing to get it wrong more than once before you get it right. And here is why that matters. In last week’s episode, Galen Hooks talked about her volunteer work with dancers Alliance and SAG-AFTRA, um, we worked side by side in several grassroots efforts, so I can definitely attest to this. That work can be exhausting. It can be unrewarding at times, and it can be very hard to stay committed, let alone possessed yet in order to make lasting change, you must be committed or, you know, possessed, It helps. now even outside of volunteer efforts, commitment really does matter a lot in the world at large, but in a creative life, especially. And here is why, because creative work is not time driven. It is idea-driven, you know, the quality or quantity of your output is not determined by the number of on the clock hours. There will always be days where you go into the studio and workshop for hours and not one solid phrase or eight count comes out. Or I suppose I should say there will be days where you don’t like one solid phrase or eight counts that comes out. Um, and on those days, your brain will probably offer that you quit or that you beat yourself up for your lack of productivity. You’ll need to decide on the thoughts that will keep you going. These thoughts are your fuel. And for the rest of this episode, I’m going to offer a series of questions to help you reveal those thoughts to help you mine that precious resource, commitment. Okay. 

The first question is this, what is your desired result?  Let’s put emphasis on what is your desired result. Now all of these questions are designed to help you and your commitment. So focus on your desired results, the things that are in your control, um, to demonstrate the difference between your desired results and general desired results. I will use this example, “The desired result that I have for the world is equal rights and equal justice for all.” Now there are a lot of people involved in the world. And even if I actually was able to change policies as an individual, I cannot change the way that other people think and feel and act. So my desired result is “to be an example of commitment to racial equity.” For example, the next question I would ask myself is why, “why do you want this result?” And this is important. This is what you’ll come back to when you want to quit. My why is this, “Because not only do I want to live in a world of equal rights and equal justice for all, but I want to be able to teach and encourage others who are interested in that world to do the same.”  My next question,  What will it cost to achieve that? What will it cost me to become an example of commitment to racial equity? I’m going to get very real with you now. And I think the next several weeks will be a testament to this. It might cost me some comfort. It might cost me some relationships. It might cost me a couple follows perhaps because I’ll be talking about things that I think are important and maybe other people don’t think those things are important. I’ll likely have some uncomfortable conversations, I’ll likely learn some hard lessons in facing truths about myself and my world. It’ll cost me time in research, reading and volunteering. Um, let’s see what else. Um, it might cost me convenience, for example. If I’m to begin shopping at a black owned bookstore, instead of buying my books on Amazon, I might have to wait until they have the book in stock, I might not get that free two day shipping. So this might also cost me money in those kinds of convenience fees, but also on a bit of a larger scale. Sometimes being an example of commitment to racial equity might look like passing on and passing along a paid opportunity to someone else. All right. I think that’s, that’s, that’s a pretty complete, although not exhaustive list of what it might cost me to achieve my goal of becoming an example of commitment to racial equity. Now the next question, after I’ve asked myself what it will cost to achieve it, I get to ask “what will it cost if I don’t commit or follow through, what will it cost if I do not achieve it.” 

This was a tough one for me. I do not commit if I, if I do not try and try again, if I do not follow through all become another person who’s talking and not doing, I’ll become a person that I do not want to be. And that is a price that I do not want to pay.  

The next question is “what must I believe to achieve this?” I have to believe that I’m responsible for my part, that small efforts add up to big changes. That big changes can happen, um, that I have to do it perfectly the first time or every time, but I do have to do it over and over and over again. Those are some of the beliefs that will help me achieve my goal. 

My next question is “how does it feel to believe those things?” When I believe that I’m responsible for my part, when I believe that small efforts add up to big change and that big change is possible, that a poet will be performing at the super bowl. When I believe that I don’t have to do it perfectly the first time, and then I get to do it over and over and over again. I feel empowered. 

My next question is an important one. “What do you have to stop believing in order to achieve this desired result?” For me, in my specific instance, I need to stop believing that I’m already doing enough. I need to stop believing that the ball is now in someone else’s court. I need to stop believing that things are never going to change. I need to stop believing that my degree of comfort is more important than growth. I simply need to stop believing those things. All right, let’s see, three, four, five, seven, Seven simple questions. And I have revealed so much. Answering these questions has given me awareness in knowing what I want, why I want it, what I’m willing to pay for it. But really this is just the beginning of the game plan. I know what I’ll think. And I know what I will stop thinking, and I know how I’ll need to feel to get it done. Now, my example is, is very much about a commitment to a way of life, but these questions can help guide you in your commitments, in the context of relationships, creative projects, and yes, absolutely. In doing daily. So what is your desired result? Why do you want it? What will it cost you to have it? What will it cost you to not commit? What do you have to believe to achieve it? How does it feel when you believe those things and what do you have to stop believing to achieve those things? Now you have the awareness and the plan you have mind the fuel. Now put it in the tank, think, feel, and go out there and make change. Speaking of change, I see daily doers. I have so many new #doingdailyWTMM hashtags, actually by the time this episode is released, we’ll probably be well over 3000 #doingdailyWTMM So if you are a, a new daily doer, make sure you’re using that hashtag so that I can see all your daily, daily doings. Also, I see so many of you daily doers using the words that move me daily, creative prompt calendar. I am jazzed about that. Good on you. Um, such a fun resource. You do not need to overstrain your brain to decide what you will do today. Simply take a glance at the words that move me daily, creative prompt calendar, and a letter rip. If you’re interested, those daily creative prompts calendars are available @ thedanawilson.com/shop and also by becoming a member of the Words that Move me Community, which I am thrilled about. Uh, shout out to all my WTMMCOMM listeners out there. If you are not a member yet, don’t stress out. You can join at literally any time, just visit theDanawilson.com and click the membership tab. Boom. There you go. Okay, everyone, that is my lesson on commitment. That is me inviting you to join me and the words that move me community in our doing daily to make lifelong changes. And that brings me to my win.

I am so excited to share my win with you today. It is extremely important, and I think that my win can be your win. Um, I just had the pleasure of sitting in on an hour and a half seminar with the fabulous Karida’s Griffith.  She is a phenomenal dancer. If you don’t already know, I do encourage you to go do a little digging on, on Karida, but she is also an educator, a fabulous educator. And right now she is offering a six week professional development program for dance educators. So for all my dance teachers out there, and I do recommend this for, for dancers as well, period. Um, the program is called roots, rhythm, race, and dance. She calls it R three D and it is basically, um, a workshop in teaching age appropriate fact-based lessons about race and dance history. And I could not be more excited about this. I’m thrilled to get started. Um, you have until February 7th to register, I will absolutely be linking to Karida’s website and the enroll page in our show notes. For this episode, I cannot express in the actual words, how enthusiastic I am about Corita’s work and how excited I am, um, to have enrolled in this program, period. I’m so jazzed about it. That is what I’m celebrating. Um, I hope that you get to go check it out and if it looks like a good fit for you, I will see you there. Uh, all right, now you go, what Is going well in your world?  

Congratulations. I am thrilled for you. I am thrilled for you. I am thrilled to get your feedback on this episode, and I’m so excited to be sharing the mic in my next several episodes. Um, you really don’t want to miss a beat, please subscribe and download these episodes. They like you’ll want to have them in your pocket. I’m just saying that’s, that’s me celebrating a future win. By the way. That’s what that sounds like is me proclaiming the win, the success of these future episodes. So, so, so excited. Um, all right, everybody. I think that is it for me today. I am going to go dance. You go do whatever it is that you are doing and just make sure you are keeping it funky. Well, yeah, I’ll talk to you soon. Bye-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 or review because your words move me to number two thing. I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit theDanawilson.com for links to free workshops. And so, so, so much. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #57 Making Good Choices with Galen Hooks

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #57 Making Good Choices with Galen Hooks
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My guest on this episode is one of the reasons I am hopeful for the future of dance… and for the world!  She is bright, wise, beautiful, and  a master of her craft from a young age.  Today, we are joined by Galen Hooks!   We dig into The Galen Hooks Method and making “good choices” on the job, activism and the responsibility of artists, and the value of following your gut. So, get your notepad ready because this is exactly the kind of heavy lifting that can leave you feeling lighter and brighter!

Quick Links:

Dancer’s Alliance: https://www.dancersalliance.org/

VMA Nominated Choreography Camilla Cabello Havana:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ0mxQXmLsk 

Galen’s River https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pHYxx9dY_U 

Galen’s Love on the Brain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MsXwbZvE58

GHM (Galen Hooks Method): https://www.galenhooks.com/train

Transcript:

Intro: Welcome to 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, Dana Wilson. And I move people. I dance, I choreograph, I coach. And the only thing that I love more than life is sharing. So if you are someone who loves to work and laugh and you’re looking to rewrite the starving artists story, then you’re in the right place. 

Hello, my friend, and welcome to the podcast. I am so glad that you’re here. How are you doing today? Today, I am doing I’m feeling hopeful. I’m feeling hopeful because I think change is good. I took a walk and I took notes on the interview from this episode under a clear blue sky from the bleachers of an empty baseball field field. Is that the right word? Diamond, baseball diamond, baseball court, baseball stage. Um, anyways, that setting was indeed quite a change for my standing desk at home. I do think change is good. Um, also I might as well mention that I’m recording this on an inauguration day. It is the first time I’ve actually watched an inauguration top to bottom, and I’m so glad that I did, um, for many reasons, but namely, because I got to witness and be tremendously moved by the words and the movement I might add of Amanda Gorman. Wow. Listening to her and watching her calm, steady, and graceful hands. As she spoke, turned me into a puddle on the floor, but not like a boggery wet ooey gooey puddle, but like a titanium indestructible puddle on the floor. So strong and yet. So full of tears is, is how I felt. This episode will air one week from today. And I will probably still be in complete awe of Amanda, um, especially her in that very moment. I simply think she’s outstanding yet, I think there are more like her and that is why I’m hopeful. Speaking of more like her, bright, wise, beautiful and a master of their craft from a very early age today, we’re joined by Galen Hooks. Galen is a friend and a leader, and I am so excited to be sharing this conversation with you today because wow, if this podcast really is about navigating your creative career, then consider this episode a compass. Please enjoy this conversation with the fabulous Galen Hooks. 

Dana: Galen hooks my friend. Welcome to the podcast.  

Galen: Hi Dana.

Thank you so much for being here. I’m simply thrilled about this and oddly embarrassed that as friends, this will probably be our longest session of talking uninterrupted in years.  

Galen: We have not talked in a very, very long time and so this will be a great catch-up  

I’m so I’m so excited about it. Um, okay, so this is how we always begin with guests on the podcast. I would like to ask that you introduce yourself. I know that this can be a daunting task, but, um, let us know anything that you would like us to know about you.  

Um, so I’ll just kind of introduce myself in a way that for anyone listening helps you understand some context for whatever I do talk about. My name is Galen Hooks. Um, I am a VMA nominated choreographer. I started working in the industry when I was seven and I have known nothing, but the entertainment industry I’ve worked with over 70 artists, if you’re kind of old school, you might know me from the Neo videos or Janet, or even LXD. But because this is the age of social media, some of you might have learned about me through some viral videos like river or love on the brain, et cetera. Um, and now in addition to doing industry work, I have the Galen hooks Method, which I might even have some alum who are listening to this, but, um, I do the Galen Hooks Method, which is made up of several kinds of experiences from 2 Day Really intimate intensives to regular length masterclasses, lectures, live events. Um, it’s global, it’s open to everyone and I am glad to be here. Dana, thank you for having me.  

Ah, it is my absolute pleasure. Um, so yes, 70 plus artists, Holy smokes, really to list your dance and your choreography credits would require a double episode, probably a back-to-back. Um, and so I’m not going to get into that and I know that we’ll talk about dance eventually, but I, I want to start by talking about your work as an activist and how that has transferred into the Galen Hooks Method. Um, so could you maybe start by talking about those 10 plus years that you Chaired Dancer’s Alliance? Yeah, so I do  

What I didn’t mention in my beginning spiel is I for 10 years, I was, um, both working with Dancers Alliance and serving on the board at SAG AFTRA us. It was like, that was at sag before sag one sag, AFTRA, and, um, worked with AFTRA at the time closely and was a liaison for the agents and just did tons and tons of activism. And during that time, um, Dana, as you know, because you were heavily involved, we spearheaded unionizing music videos, and Dana was instrumental in helping us unionize, what I think was the only tour.

Unfortunately I think you might be, you might be right. 

The biggest, like win and lose at the same time. Yeah. So, yeah. Um, so I spent a very long period of time being an activist in the community and helping with helping make, I guess when I say activist, I think now how do I explain this?  We made really, um, tangible changes in contracts and unionizing, and that was always my really driving force was making actionable change. Um, so of course now the Baton has been passed as it should be two dancers who are now currently working. Obviously I don’t work as a dancer anymore. Um, so when I do the intensives, um, I have Industry sessions for the Galen hooks method and Non-industry sessions. And so the industry sessions are for professional dancers and there’s another session for aspiring choreographers. And in both of those instances, it’s just important to, uh, make sure and practice people know how to apply concepts like what’s happening in your contracts or how to deal with your agent or what to do If you get in a sticky situation, basically in the, in the sessions, I’m able to communicate the things that we would typically do in our DA meetings. And then for the choreography session, it’s really kind of bananas how even like our colleagues now and people who are my elders as choreographers still don’t know answers to a lot of questions because there isn’t much codified language for choreographers. So we’ll go through everything from what your rate should fricking be, which like I get calls all the time from my friends asking.

Oh I’m so sure you do 

Like when I think about it, a lot of, I consult a lot of people on their negotiations, like on what to ask their agents for and what to ask their manager managers for not to say that that’s a form of activism, but it’s like a daily kind of dealing with negotiations and rates is still a huge part of my life, even though I’m not working with an organization, but in the GHM creative session, we go through the basics like what your rates should be to more, um, uh, applicable questions. Like if you are hired as an assistant, and you’re asked to contribute creatively, what should you do to do you get paid to run an audition? What, like all kinds of things that even now working choreographers don’t necessarily know the answers to. Um, so that’s kind of like on the dance end, but then really I, we, the dance industry has, I don’t know, fractions the right word, but it’s split off into even more kind of bubbles than I think had existed when we were doing DA. And so my, I know that I have an immediate community of people who I can activate as people and citizens as well, I guess. So certainly like an element of just human activation has come into play and definitely in the past year. So, uh, you know, we got people to register to vote and to phone bank for Biden and write letters to the George Floyd family and, um, you know, raise money for the actors fund or feeding America. So there’s kind of like this, the sense of activism has expanded beyond dance, which is wonderfully fulfilling for me. And just nice for dancers to be able to come together in a non dance sense as well  

On like on a human plane. 

Exactly. 

Yeah. I love this, but we’ll have to adjust your bio slightly to include the title of unofficial consultant to all on all things. Um, well, okay, so let’s flash back a little bit. You mentioned the music video negotiations and the touring negotiations. That was certainly when we logged our most time together. Yes. Um, and I became aware of how much work is done behind the scenes and in other organizations that, um, dancers Alliance is a Non-Union organization. And by the way, if you are not familiar at first listen with Dancers Alliance, I will absolutely be linking to the DA website in the show notes. That should be your next stop after you listened to this episode. Um, but from my experience with, with organizing, I learned, I think if I had to boil down a takeaway that education and outreach must be almost constant in order to make a lasting impact. Um, and I think that that’s what you’re doing with the Galen Hooks Method is pretty much around the calendar doing that education and outreach. Um, w what, what else did you take away from that time? Any like big life-changing lessons learned from doing all that work in organizing  

The —, when you try to articulate the amount of work it takes to organize. And I think now people, one fortunate thing is that people are getting a tiny taste of what it is to organize in just going to protests. And I think like the stamina that it takes to consistently care about something is so underestimated by people who get riled up and want to make a change. And I want to kind of like put for anyone who’s listening. I wanna just put this in the context of if you’re listening and you feel like you recognize injustices, whether it’s you think your rate should go up or whether it’s racial injustice, um, and you have an inkling of what, you know, needs to happen to fix that injustice. You’re gonna hit multiple steps around the way where you just get so freaking worn out.  And when I say I did it for 10 years, most people burn out after like a month. Like, you know, this Dana is like, you get really excited and jazzed about, I want to change. I want to, I want the rates to go up, whatever it is. And then you book a job and then all that goes out the window. So for me, like I, a lot of the time I spent, which by the way, just in case this isn’t clear that people working for Dancers Alliance, it’s like 100% volunteer work. You don’t get paid. It is absolutely on your own time. So whether it was when Dana and I were working with DA or the people that, you know, currently are working for DA, they are doing it in the spare time that they have in their lives. So I would be in China, I’d be in Europe, I’d be at like 4:00 AM organizing PowerPoint presentations, and, um, you know, doing phone calls with SAG and it’s like, you have to have, it just takes so much mental stamina. So, and I, and I think, you know, I started the intensives before kind of this huge wave of intensives that currently is taking place. And I think a lot of people, it takes a lot of stamina to do something like an intensive. And whether it’s, whether it’s the activism with Dancers Alliance or whether it’s the Galen Hooks Method, I’m not doing it for the sake of saying I run a business and I do these intensives. And like, there wasn’t, I didn’t, I had no intention of the Galen Hooks Method becoming a thing, I do it because I care. So I’m able to continue doing it because I care. And that’s what it takes that level of stamina, not to say that other people that do intensives don’t care, but you have to have a huge amount of care and desire to make a difference to keep going after the initial excitement has worn off because 99% of the work that goes into these things is not fun. It’s not sexy. It’s not like cool stuff to do. So I certainly that’s a long winded way of kind of reminiscing on that time of the, uh, music, video negotiations or the tour negotiations. Um, there’s like, there’s so much like literal tears. I remember talking to you Dana, and it was it’s so emotionally fraught, and you want to quit at so many points because there are so many hurdles along the way. So the mental and emotional stamina is absolutely imperative for any cause to continue forward.  

You need a strong why. You need to have a strong why, like you have to know exactly why you’re doing it, and if it is money and if it is a reputation or, uh, you know, praise, uh, that won’t be enough, for this type of work, it’s simply won’t be enough. Um, so what would you say now is your why? Like, what is your North star at the moment with the program and in your, and in your creative life?  

It’s jeez,we, so we are recording this like a week after the Capitol was stormed, not even a week. And, uh, uh, it’s such a change, I guess, for me of my North Star, because what happens every day for us as people is we used to it’s a grab bag. So I, I don’t think I’ve ever had a, an exactly enumerated North star or mission statement or why that’s kind of written out. I have a really, I really listened to my gut and know when I’m going in a direction that feels right. And I really know when I’m not so kind of, it’s like every day I wake up and it’s like, what, what’s happening in the world today? And I follow what feels right to do with the time and energy that I have to give to make things happen. So I, I genuinely do not have a, an exactly specified North star other than like, what, how can I best use the, uh, like assets that I have to do something for people. 

That is huge. And that makes total sense to me. Um, now my brain is offering me this image of not a due North, like not a North star, not a, not a one mission statement or mantra, but just a compass that works really well. I think, I think you have a strong moral compass, which is probably why most people come to you, um, for advice or consultation, help negotiating things that, or negotiating or navigating things that they haven’t done yet. So that’s, that makes complete sense to me. And I love it. So let me, if we could talk a little bit about the Galen Hooks Method for a second. Um, I know that you work with professional dancers, like varying degrees of experienced dancers, um, and I’m sure that some of my listeners are alum and I’m sure that a lot of my listeners would be interested in training with you. So I’m wondering what you think is the biggest difference between a lay person dancing and an aspiring pro dancing and what could they learn from each?  

Hmm. Um, let me just for good measure, explain each of the sessions because it’ll help with my explanation. So they’re from, from like beginner to industry, the sessions are GHM light, which is for absolute beginners. Uh, you can’t, you shouldn’t be advanced. And that one that is for a hobbyist basically. And then there’s GHM classic, which is a mixed levels one. So that one, I will have absolute hobbyists with professional dancers. And it’s about artistry. GHS pro is only professional dancers. Creative is for aspiring choreographers. And then game plan is for the people that are trying to get a game plan to work in the industry. So when I’m doing, for example, GHM classic, which is the mixed levels, hobbyists and professionals in the same room, honestly, the approach is exactly the same for every single person in that room. And everyone is at a literally the same equal playing field. So my approach to teaching them is absolutely the same, whether they’ve never danced a day in their life or they’re veterans who have done it for 20 years, if it’s a pro session, I guess this is how I would answer it like the pro session or any pro master classes that I’ve done or audition intensives. Anytime I’m dealing with people who are trying to work and are taking their career seriously, it is like no nonsense and very high, high stakes. Um, but if I’m working with a room of only beginners, then obviously we’re going way back to basics. So I guess the way I’m answering that is if I have a mixed group of people in the same room, everybody has dealt with the exact same way, but if I’ve got only beginners, I’m dealing with them one way and only pros is the other way.  And they’re both like, I think what I’ve loved is being able to be so high stakes with the professional dancers. I think like, you know, when we, when you work with an actor, I’ve had, both of us have had experience working on film, TV, commercial work, where you’re working with non-dancers and that’s kind of like I’m, I’m used to in my career working with absolute beginners who don’t speak the language of dance. So it’s less of like a switching teaching wise with those people, but what has been so awesome is being able to just crack the whip with professional dancers, because on a job it’s like, um, the way that I’m training professional dancers is much different than the way that I would treat them on a job. Um, so it’s really fun. I think on both of our ends, whether you’re the student, or for me to have like a different way of approaching teaching professional dancers,  

I think I’m just now wrapping my head around this, like training for professional work can be professional work in the  like you can be treating mat training moment as the professional moment. And for many of the dancers in your program, it is. In some senses, I’m sure the thought behind, at least some people’s head is this is an audition. This is a person who works all the time and I’m in front of them day after day after day. And every day I show up is if I treat it as a day on the job, I’m maybe that close that much closer to being on the job with Galen. Um, it, w w is that a mindset that you would recommend, or do you think that, or what would you recommend for people coming into your program is being the most beneficial mindset? Like how will we get the most out of it?  

I’m honestly, the, the pro session is not, none of these sessions are meant for you to work with me. That happens, and I’ve hired many of my alum following their sessions, but that’s not the goal. So the pro session, I’m trying to get you to work with everybody. Like of every dance style of every genre of choreographer. So we’re, the mindset is to be adaptable, to be smart. You know, everyone talks about being a smart dancer, but you don’t understand that or see it in practice until you’re thrown into the lion’s den. And like, it’s really, you can’t, if you can imagine Dana, like trying to prep for doing the traffic scene in La La Land, but you’ve never been on a set before. There’s not really a way to prep for how to deal with all of the elements that happen unless you are thrown well, you can’t learn except for, from experience.  

You will not know how to do it until you have actually done it  

Until you’ve done it. And you learn so much from doing. And so the a lot of people will ask beforehand, like, what should I prepare? How do I like come into this thing? And you’ve got to just come in as a blank slate, because the learning is not in prepping for the session to come in with the right mindset, you come in with a blank slate and I, or each person in the session, because they are very small capacity, 15 to 30 person sessions, every single person in that room, I’m customizing the training I’m giving to you based on where you’re at. So you can just come in having just like woken up and rolled out of bed, and I’m going to adjust what’s happening based to where you are. Um, so there’s not, yeah, but the bigger picture of what you’re saying is like, yes, you should, a thousand percent like come in being professional and, um, presenting yourself in a way that, for me, as Galen Hooks, that I go, like, I like this person and I’ll recommend them. I think that’s the other thing is that I’m recommending people the same way that people are hitting me up all the time, asking what to negotiate for the contracts all the time. All the time, people are hitting me up and I’m sure hitting you up. We all hit each other up going, do you know a blonde? I’m my blondes are all booked. I need a blonde. So I’m recommending people all the time. So it’s, it’s not just in my intensives, but any class you take going to Carnival going to Starbucks, when we’re able to go places again, like you should always be aware of the hiring potential of the interactions you’re having with anybody, not just me.  

Uh, fabulous, fabulous advice. Um, and also I took a tiny note. Cause as you were talking about not until you’ve done it, I was remembering all of the hundreds of times master teachers or my own teachers have told me and all dancers, they think this is the thing we all often hear. Um, make good choices. Hey guys, just make good choices and good is so relative. And also when you’re coming up, you haven’t established your taste yet necessarily. So you might not know, you might not know what a good choice is or a much less how to actually make it. So giving a place for people to practice good choices or experiment, good choices or audition good choices and bad choices. I think that’s so valuable.  

Do, do you mean creative choices? 

Yes. Let me just like, or like dance, dance choices, bad choices, body choices. 

So that, that’s so interesting. I’m just gonna like respond to that because I, I don’t this isn’t to contradict what you’re saying, but 

Oh, do it bring it yes. 

Just to explain how it, how, uh, how I would, um, plant in somebody’s head who’s listening. I don’t operate in thinking of choices as a dancer or artistically. So what, what I, what I think a lot of people what’s holding back a lot of aspiring dancers is that you’re not thinking about if we’re in a rehearsal setting or not in audition setting, you’re not thinking about serving the job. And so, um, if you’re going to be making dance choices, you’ve got to be thinking of what the job is calling for. And the way that people are training right now is, uh, it’s holding back the choreographer from being able to get certain jobs done, because the choices people making are making are in a bubble and in a vacuum of what they’re excited about creatively as their own individual dancer, but they’re not choices that make sense for what’s being called for in the shot. So take what Dana’s saying about making choices and being creative and having the space to fail, which I want to say in the pro intensive, that is not the place to fail. It’s the, it’s not like I just want to be really clear in case anyone signs up for it. It’s not a, it’s not the pro intensive specifically is not a nurturing environment because I’m preparing you for what it’s like to actually work on the high level jobs. So I guess what I’m trying to articulate is it’s incredibly important to do what Dana is suggesting of making those creative choices, but there’s the people who work all the time, make those choices, knowing what the shot’s supposed to be and knowing what the choreographer is asking for.  

Uh huh. Um, I think there’s tremendous value in that. And I think I’m learning like are a bit of the difference in uni in, in our training, on the come up. Um, you know, you spent a lot of time assisting and working with Marguerite Derricks, she runs a very tight ship. She knows exactly what she wants, but I have spent equal maybe more. I don’t, I would love to see hourly side-by-side catalog, um, of time with Marty Kudelka who like packages improvisation and hires and works exclusively exclusively with people who he knows will default to a freestyle or, or a, um, an, an unplanned moment that is in alignment with the vision. So that’s what I would consider a good choice is one that is an in alignment with, uh, what the job is asking for. 

Right, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. 

And then I think if we also zoom out a little bit, and this is a fun, this is a really cool thing. Actually, I’m excited to talk about, um, I, I have developed over the course of the podcast, a community of doing daily doers, they are people who have taken on the challenge of making a creative work every single day. Several of them are in the two hundreds by now, 

Oh my gosh, 

More people joining every single day. And the objective almost solely the objective of that project is to claim agency over your own work is to not have to answer to anyone and simply make something every day, not necessarily because you’re inspired or because you have an, uh, an inner creative voice that you want to get out. But simply because you said that you would, it’s strengthening a creative muscle and putting the power back in your own hands in an industry where we so often give it away to the choreographer or to the casting director or to whoever.  So, um, to give us a full, like 360 degree view of good choices, I think good choices serve the project and you, and I don’t think that a dancer should ever have to sacrifice, uh, their anything for a project it’s the dancers choice if they would like to be there. But so many people, especially at the end of a one year plus pandemic are thinking, Oh, man work would be real great right now I will do whatever it takes, including put my, um, creative impulses in the, uh, in the sidecar. But I think it’s really interesting. I really do. I am. I default to nurturer in all of the, in my, in my teaching and in the podcast and in this project where, where people are doing daily, I find it so easy to get critical. In fact, that’s probably the number two reason to do it is it really helps combat the perfectionist syndrome. If you’re trying to ship a creative work every single day, certainly not all of them will be perfect. So it’s a really interesting muscle to strengthen, but like if, is creativity called for on a professional job, I think it depends on what the professional job is and who it is that you’re working for. So often offerings are, you know, being a person that has good ideas, um, good instincts and good offerings can be a thing that gets you the job, but equally, probably an equal amount of the time. It could be what loses you the job.  

Yes. Yeah, yeah. That the wa I think that the only thing I’m distilling down is you have the context of knowing, knowing what choices serve the job and don’t, and what I see sometimes now is because how do I, like if you’re making those choices outside the context of being on a job, sometimes, sometimes there’s a misunderstanding of what making a creative choice means. Um, so do we, so it’s, it’s wonderful that you’re having people practice that creative muscle so that when you are, when it is asked of you, because although, although I assisted Marguerite, certainly there are times when, if you, if you work with Jamaica Craft, she’s like a thousand percent asking those creative choices from you. So it’s so important, like taking that ability to do daily, and then having that added layer of like, when you’re asked to do that on a job, then it’s, it’s being creative in, in the confines of a job is creative in, uh, in and of itself. And that’s like exciting that you’re getting people at different juices going, because, you know, doing daily without limitation is different than doing it on a job. And it must be much more, uh, easy for people to do it in the confines of a job if they’re used to doing it on their own so much.  

Yes. I think you’re totally spot on in, in taking on a daily creative challenge. You like you plant yourself in the pilot seat of the, of this like creative cockpit and in front of you, all the dials and knobs and levers are there. And one of them is like the sensitivity to read the room or the ability to look to the person who is, uh, who, who is leading the room and like dial up and down all of your creative knobs and levers accordingly after like, you know, checking the altitude and whatnot. Um, I’m going to go ahead and walk away from that analogy now. Cause I know nothing else about aviation. Levers. I think we’ve got a lever in there. Um, okay, cool. So I, I love that I’m fascinated with like the ways that we can be, um, aware of what’s being asked and meet that, meet the expectation through practice, right. Through training through yes, definitely through experience, but also through just a willingness to like do it and maybe do it wrong, but do it over and over again until you get it right. Um, a question about how you devised the Galen Hooks Method. I think your experiences are so vast and so many from being on big screens, huge artists, tremendous audiences to being a producer, not just of your own works. Um, one of my favorites of all time still is Campfire Vaudeville. Um, but then you also went on to produce larger scale productions for the Voice and so on and so forth. So I guess, um, I, I guess what I’m wondering is how, Hmm, let me, what am I wondering when I, when I imagine you creating the Galen Hooks method, I see you in your bat cave hovered over a beautifully lit drafting table, like spreadsheets and flow charts and like your actual Batman in my eyes, and you’ve got Fox and you’ve got Alfred. And then like in this den of, of brilliance, um, is that how that happened or was it a trial?  

That’s a very romanticized version. No, not at all.  

Leave, leave it to me to make a romanticize, a very, very dramatic Marvel action version of everything.  

Um, like I kind of alluded to earlier, I didn’t intend for it to be something. So it started as audition intensives because I was running auditions and felt just terrible for people who were getting cut for reasons. They had no idea about that are very easily fixable. And because I was a dancer for so long when I became a choreographer, almost like, are you for real? Why doesn’t anyone tell us how to audition? This is criminal to me that we’re like spending all of our lives training and then like our hair is not right. And that’s why we’re getting cut. So I started doing audition intensives, and it was just called Behind the Audition. And then I started doing heals intensives because heals became a thing. And obviously when I was dancing as a professional dancer, there weren’t heals classes. You just like booked the job and they gave you heals and you danced it. But, Um, I really saw a, um, I saw the desire for people who wanted to dance in a heel, but not dance in the way that most heel classes were taught. So I was doing heel heels, intensives. And then, so the people that were doing the audition intensive were then booking jobs based off of what they did in the intensive. So then they would say, what should I do on the job? I don’t know what to do in rehearsal. I don’t know how to sign my contract. So then I did an onset intensive. So the Galen Hooks method, quote unquote, we came what it is because I was actually sitting with our friend, Amanda Balen and we were, I was just kinda like, it’s, it’s an approach to the entire industry. And because been doing this since I was a child, I have like a, a way that I philosophically approach the industry that I recognize is just my way of doing it. So it’s my, I call it the Galen Hooks Method, because this is my one approach. And I know that there are other, there’s not one way to do this. So this is just my way. Um, but it was not concocted it as like I want it to be, I just hadn’t. I had no intention and I still have no intention of, you know, it of like building an empire. It’s all just out of a desire to fill what I see are gaps in how dancers are trained. And certainly now, because I, you know, it started off as though everything I’ve named so far is completely industry-related. And now there are sessions that have absolutely nothing to do with the industry, because I’m just kind of following, as I said before, I follow my gut. And so I don’t have things that are really pre-planned. So I even in a year, I don’t know what the session, I mean, by the end of this year, I don’t know what the sessions will be because, uh, everything changes and the format of the sessions change drastically over the years and what we do in the sessions change. So the, yeah, the, the making of it was not, was certainly not in a proverbial Batcave kind of like thinking about what I want to do and making it a strategic. It, none of it was strategic and none of it is strategic. And I’m very thankful for anybody who signs up because I’m just doing what feels necessary in the moment without any kind of expectation that it will turn into anything, anything, or that people will come. So they, it, anybody who comes, but yeah, that’s kind of the Genesis of it.  

Okay. I think that that is also a very romantic telling of it. I think it’s beautiful that this, like keeping a finger on the pulse of a what the, what your community is looking for or needs or could benefit from, and then also keeping the finger on the pulse of where you are, what you’ve experienced, what you have to offer. I think that makes all the sense in the world and is also beautiful. Thanks. Um, okay. So I’ve known you to be like, in, in the past, you have a extremely strong voice and we already talked about the strong moral compass, um, but I’ve known you to be somewhat introverted. And I know that a lot of the people that I work with are the same and that they believe that that somehow might keep them from building a global brand or from, um, you know, being a person that can be comfortable in a spotlight. So I would love to hear a little bit about how you manage, um, popularity and dare, I even call it celebrity and being a front runner.  I think it’s, you know, you know, it’s funny actually let’s sidebar for a second, a hundred years ago. Um, when I, I don’t remember if these two things lined up exactly, but might’ve been around Camp Fire Vaudeville time. I roughly, um, I was working on a YouTube series called More than Moves and it was, yeah, the talk show. It was my dream that it’d be like, uh, like the Chelsea Handler of dance, except for, I say, I swear slightly less often. Um, when, when I, when I like headed out into the world, creating that show, my mission was for dancers names to be household names. And that was it. I was like, I want people to, to, I want Galen Hooks and Travis Wall and like my friends and myself to be names that are known outside of our little, you know, dancer universe. And then I made three episodes and ran out of money and they’re all on YouTube. I would’ve done it very differently now in retrospect. But I think that maybe partially because of those three episodes, but certainly because of our community and pop culture where it is right now, dancers names are household names. And I don’t use that word too lightly. I think that dancers are celebrities. Um, and I would count them among I would count you among them, even if that makes you uncomfortable. Um, but do you feel pressure of a limelight or w what’s your kind of take on dancers as celebrities?  

Um, I do. I definitely, I don’t take myself that seriously that like I do what I do in spite of having limelight on me. And I definitely, I realized recently that my, what excited me about being a professional dancer was not performing or having an audience or working with celebrities. I just fricking love doing choreography. Like I love the act of having choreography put on me and trying to perfect it. And so I re I’m like, I really have never enjoyed, um, attention, I guess. So, so I recognize that, for example, if I, if I, um, I’m teaching a class and I demonstrate the routine that the students will learn how I want it executed if I demonstrate it, because I would think like if I took Wade’s class and Wade never demonstrated the choreography, it’s like, if you see him do it, you’re like *****,   Like I recognize that there’s that like, that’s as much kind of attention as I enjoy having on me. Um, and I’m.. Dancer’s Alliance, for example, you know, there’s PowerPoint presentations that I did with a thousand people out in the audience and a lot of public speaking. And I think a lot of people would go for, for so many people. You’d rather do a dance solo than have to publicly speak. And I have zero fear of public speaking if I’m speaking about something that I really care about. And so doing something like teaching classes or doing the intensives, I am extremely introverted and don’t like attention on me as a person, but I really love and can speak all day about things that I care about and know inside and out. So it’s kind of, I don’t know if that helps like paint the picture of, in spite of the, I’m not doing it because of, um, having people listen to me, but in spite of that, I’m able to communicate things that I care about and that I know will help people.  And with both Dancers Alliance and the intensives, it’s, I’m doing it, knowing that the person listening is going to take that information and do something with it. So it’s for it’s to help people. Um, yeah. So I, I recognize that like most other people who there are a lot of dancers who are celebrities, uh, and I think that’s totally fine. There are a lot of people who they want to be professional dancers because they want to dance in front of thousands of people and have a crowd cheering. And that’s, uh, so yeah, there are different levels of dance celebrities these days, I guess you would say. And if that’s what you want, I mean, people are making like amazing careers out of it. So I guess it’s a great thing on balance.  

I like this concept, um, in spite of something, not because of something with regards to, uh, shall we call it the limelight or, you know, mass mass appeal or vitality, maybe I dunno, maybe is a better word. Um, but that’s, it’s a good moment for people listening maybe to take stock and pause, um, to figure out, you know, why? Their, why not to bring it back to the why? Um, and then of course, like take a moment to think about what is it that you could talk about for hours on it and what, what is the cause that would get you up in front of a thousand people and have you unfaced like, what is a thing that you are that passionate about?  

That’s a great way of putting it Dana. Yeah.  

Okay. My friend, I am going to pop out right here to recap before we launch into our next segment. I want to underline where Galen and I landed in our conversation about making choices. I think it’s important to highlight that a good choice is one that is in alignment with what the job is asking for and making that choice is really all about dialing up or down, really being in charge of the command station there, um, of dialing up or down, not necessarily on or off, but really fine tuning your creative impulses and keeping your finger on the pulse of the room. Um, in determining when, and how much of that is asked for, is called for, is needed. I also really loved what Galen had to say about her volunteered time with dancers Alliance and SAG-AFTRA and the intentions and mental and emotional stamina that are required to make changes. So circling back to where we started the episode today, I suppose change is good, but it likely won’t be fun or sexy or cool to make it happen. At very least it won’t be that way all of the time. So as you look out there at the world and see the ways that you would like for it to change, ask yourself what are the thoughts and the things that will keep you going along the path of making those changes. Galen. And I went on to talk quite a bit about the insurrection that took place just a few weeks ago. On January 6th, I confessed in my lack of confidence that another painting or statue or eight count is really what our country needs right now. Um, and I, I asked her, are artists responsible for making change today? And if so, how do we do it? So let’s jump back in and hear what she has to say.  

Right? I think artists, I, as a, my own individual person, regardless of being an artist or not, don’t feel that I have the right to say what other artists should and shouldn’t be doing. I certainly don’t think every artist and not even every dancer right now has to be, um, has a responsibility to be doing something different because they’re an artist, I guess I would say like, if, if it were, what do we as citizens? What are we responsible for right now? That’s, uh, then that is a much different thing. But I think as an artist, what I have, okay, I, prior to last year, I never did anything choreographically, creatively, that was topical. There was, it was never like, um, if it was about gun violence, I would never like a piece about gun violence. Um, and if I did have an opinion about something, it was always very metaphorical. And I think, I didn’t realize until last year, how important, for example, the, I have a duet routine that I put out called best part it’s to it’s to the song best part. And it’s a duet. And in the class, this was, this was the final class before the lockdown. And I really wanted to make sure that people felt okay, dancing with a partner of the same sex if they identified that way, or even if they didn’t, but just having people of the same sex dance together and in the class, it was, that was like, one of the hardest thing was to convince people, even people who do like they’re like fricking married to people, the same sex, and they wouldn’t feel comfortable in the class, just dancing with that partner. And in putting out the class video of that class, I didn’t realize how important it is to share art in moments that don’t feel like it’s appropriate to do so, because if you haven’t been exposed to seeing two people of the same sex dance together, it’s exposing you to that in a way that’s so much different than if you even see it in an acting scene in a movie it’s different to see a level of intimacy that, um, people did in, in those videos, or I guess my point is the value of just art without it being a political statement was definitely brought to the fore front for me last year. And so I think for you, Dana, it might not seem important to see another painting or another combo, but for the next person over that painting or combo might help unlock something for them politically, that that piece of art wasn’t even meant to unlock for them. And what it doesn’t mean is that everybody has to just be making like a new combo to the new Ariana Grande song right now. Like that’s not, if you don’t feel called to do that, that’s not an efficient use of your time, but if you feel called to do that, then go ahead and do it. I think the problem is if you feel like you are pressured to do that, when really in your heart, you’re like, I want to go to this protest, but I need to make this thing that is absolutely irrelevant right now, because that’s what I need to do business wise. I don’t know if that, if that, like  

I got gotcha. That makes total sense. And I do feel callings at this moment. I also feel confusion. I also feel anger. I also feel pride and it, and sometimes I feel those anger and pride, like simultaneously it’s, it’s quite an experience. Um, but  

Sorry, I don’t want to, I don’t mean to interrupt, but I just realized that what you, what you, what you expressed about not wanting or not needing another painting or combo at the beginning of all of the, I think like probably in the weeks immediately following the George Floyd incident, I, I, you know, for, for my entire life, I’ve loved dance and loved making things and loved choreographing. I didn’t want to do Jack ***. It was like, none of this is important. Why like, why should I be dancing right now? Why would I make up a routine right now? This is not important to make up eight counts right now. So I totally empathize with the feeling of like, well, what are my skill sets in this moment that actually will make a difference. Um, but I just wanted to pinpoint that, like, I totally understand the conflict of feeling like what we do as artists. Isn’t important, unless it’s a, maybe either if it’s a statement about what’s happening or that we need to put that aside to do other things that are, that do seem more important, but I also, um, sometimes the art that people makes helps others escape from what’s happening and that can be valuable in doses as well.  

Right. Right. Thank you for adding that. Yeah. Um, like an, an eight count might not get an eight count. Might not keep people from breaking into the Capitol building, but so, so maybe we don’t need eight counts, but what we do need is strong, capable artists that are able to follow their instinct. And in order to do that in order to be big and strong in order to get big and strong, we must act when we are compelled to do so. And we make when we are compelled to do so. And, and on the subjects that we are compelled about. So simple. Yeah.  

Yeah. I definitely on the basic question of like, are artists responsible, um, artistically, and I don’t know if that was your question, but I just want to say like, some people are, their skill is making fun, like popcorn dance for us escape into, you know, like I don’t, I wouldn’t expect every dancer to have to change what they’re doing artistically to reflect the times. Um, so if you’re out there and you feel bad, because I think a lot of people do feel guilty for continuing to create when the world is imploding around them. Um, you can, you can go make up an Ariana Grande routine, but it doesn’t mean that that prevents you from then getting on your computer afterwards and phone banking or helping, you know, people vote for the Georgia, if you can do kind of both, they’re not mutually exclusive.  

Thank you for adding that as well. Holy smokes, Galen, so much knowledge and so much passion for what you do and for sharing what you do. Thank you. So, so, so much for sharing with us today. I think we could continue on for hours. I know you’re a busy lady, um, and we’ve got to get out into the world and make, make some good stuff happen. Um, so thank you so much for joining me. I really hope that we get to talk more as human beings on and off the air in  2021. 

Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. It was lovely catching up. And, um, these are complicated, uh, topics that I’m sure I did not articulate properly. And I’m thinking off the top of my head as we’re talking, but they’re, they’re important things to talk about.  

Thank you for, thank you for putting yourself out there and for, uh, for sharing. Yes, these aren’t, these aren’t easy questions, even, even questions about things that we know and love like your program. It’s always, yeah, it, it does take great care and you are a person who cares greatly. So thank you again.  

Thanks for having me. 

My pleasure, my pleasure.  

All right, my friend, I hope that you are as activated by that conversation as I am. I hope you’re reminded about your ability to make change and your ability to make good choices. And I hope you were inspired to follow your compass. I think there’s a lot to celebrate from that episode and, and from the world at large. But today I am going to close this episode out with a very personal win. Today, I might cry while I celebrate my win. By the way, I am wearing a sweater that my mom knitted for her dad when she was about my age, my Grandpa George passed away a few years ago. And of course that brought much sadness, but today I’m celebrating the joy that I find in things that can be made, loved, and shared for literally generations. So through tears. Thank you, Mom. Thank you, Grandpa George. I promise I’ll take really good care of this adorable sweater vest. Whew guys. Yikes. This has gotten to be a pretty heavy episode. Huh? Well, feel free to lighten it up or to go deep with your win today, but it is that time me with your win. What’s going well in your world. 

Thank you, my friend. And congratulations to you. Please keep winning. You know, I plan to speaking of that, actually, we really do have a lot of future wins coming up on the podcast. Next week is going to be an awesome episode. We’re taking a deeper dive into commitment, and I’m really, really excited about February and Black History Month on the podcast. So don’t forget to subscribe so that you don’t miss a thing. And also don’t forget to keep it funky. Very, very important that you do that in this ever-changing world. Always be funky. I’ll talk to you next week. 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. Review your words, move me. 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. #56 Climbing Ladders and (literally) Jumping Through Hoops with Matty Peacock

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #56 Climbing Ladders and (literally) Jumping Through Hoops with Matty Peacock
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My guest in this episode, Matty Peacock, works closely with more than “some” of today’s most influential pop sensations.  The most influential thing about him, however, is not his resume…  It is his respect for the work, the mystery, and the collaboration within the process.   From performing to choreographing and directing Matty shares *almost* all of his secrets and stories that land him where he stands (and moves) today. ENJOY!

Quick Links:

Leon Else’s Dance Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbKcv4LyZD4

Fatboy Slim Weapon Of Choice Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbKcv4LyZD4 

(Choreographed by Michael Rooney) 

Hoizer Work Song Music Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nH7bjV0Q_44&list=PL_syrWcl4u8mYiBDsosGxqs6fKmyrH1qp&index=15

Anthony Ramos Mind over Matter:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYRXCaazHSw

Nothing sticks promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJgtSreFD1s

Crystal Pite and Kidd Pivot: https://kiddpivot.org/crystal-pite/


Shawn Mendes Wonder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHeQemJJQII

Transcript:

Intro: Welcome to 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, Dana Wilson. And I move people. I dance. I choreograph I coach. And the only thing that I love more than moving is sharing. So if you are someone who loves to work and laugh and you’re looking to rewrite the starving artists story, then you’re in the right place. 

Dana: Hello, Hello. How are you? My friend. Well, I hope good. Good would be good. Great is great. Um, and okay. Is also totally okay if you’re just doing okay today, man. Crappy is actually okay too. I will accept that there is a lot going on out there in the world, and I hope that this episode finds you at very, very least being kind to yourself and hopefully kind to others as well.  Okay. Wow. My friend, I have a treat for you today. My guest on the show, a show, do I usually call it a show? My guest on the podcast is Matty Peacock, director, choreographer, movement, director movement, coach performer, and many, many things he’s about to tell you. And he is also a dear friend, um, and much to his own surprise. I think he is also an excellent talker. I learned so much about my friend, Matty P. I learned so much about myself in this conversation and, um, I hope that you do too. So, uh, we’re going to jump right into it. Enjoy this conversation with the wonderful. See what I did there. Matty Peacock, 

Dana: Matthew Peacock. Holy smokes. Welcome to the podcast.  

Matty: Thank you, Dana. Thanks for having me.  

Dana: I’m so glad you’re here. This is exciting. Um, by the way, I suppose I call you Matty P is that, is that what you like? Like what do you, how do you prefer to be?  

Matty: I think I’ve, I’m kind of indifferent about my name, which probably is kind of a problem. I think when I was like, I, you seem to do some myself as peacock and actually stuck for a long time. And then I think through climbing ranks of different things, I think Matty Peacock ended up sticking more and felt more official, I guess. I dunno,  

But peacock is your real true last name, 

That is correct.

That’s sick. I love it. Okay. This is how it works on a podcast. All of my guests introduce themselves. So take it away. What do you want us to know about you?  

Um, well, first and foremost, I am terrible at talking about myself, but I’m going to give it a shot.  

Oh, you’re going to be great. I can tell already, plus I edit heavily. So if something goes terribly wrong, you’re fine.  

Great. Um, well, my name is Matty Peacock. Um, I am from Long Island, New York. I was born in Korea, um, and I am a man of many talents and a master of none of them. Um, I would say currently I’m mostly focused on, um, being a director and a choreographer, um, and leading up into present day I’ve, um, danced and still dance as a professional dancer. Um, I’m a writer, artist, uh, creator, movement coach, movement director. Um, friend’s son, uncle, um, lover of good food and good movies and, um, a human being. How about that?  

Yo for somebody who doesn’t not much like to talk about themselves. That was really good. 

Yeah. Are we done with this? 

Yes, well thank you so much for coming. Bye. Um, all right. So very broadly, this podcast is about navigating creative careers, but what it actually is about, I think is learning period point blank. The end. Its what I always find myself talking about is what excites me the most. I love to learn. So, um, I thought we might start by you talking a little bit about your training. Like how did you learn and what did you learn about on the come up?  

Alright. Um, I would say I fell into dance, like kind of late. Um, I started dancing at the age of 16. Uh, I grew up again, uh, in a small area, a little small town, a long Island in a middle-class family, quite sports. Um, I actually lived near a ranch, so I would spend a lot of time on the ranch. Uh, it was like one of my first jobs. It was like working at the stables and I fell into horseback riding. Uh, and that was kind of the bulk of my childhood into my pre-teens. Uh, but there was a close friend of mine whose I’m still very close with to this day. He kind of introduced me, uh, it’s a dancer and he went to a dance, a local dance studio, and he would always like, he was like the cool kid in school. He like would like dance at the school dances and all the girls that are like into his moves and like, um, we played sports and he was like, you know, do back flips on the football field. And I was like, Oh man, this kid is so cool. Like I want to learn how to do that. And I, one day I just kind of asked him, I was like, can you teach me how to dance? You know? And then also growing up, like being influenced by likes TV and seeing, you know, Michael Jackson and just great music videos, you know? Um, and so he was like, come, come to my dance studio, you know, kind of take a class. Um, and so, yeah, I, I asked my, my parents who have always been super supportive of everything I’ve done and they’re like, sure, I will sign you up. So I took a hip, uh, recreational hip hop class and I was terrible 

Where it all begins.  

It starts there. Right. So bad. I couldn’t like the thing I couldn’t get over was like having to like learn the choreography and like, and memorize it. So like, I would like try to freestyle like, and like learn how to, you know, I, I would research and watch videos of people break dancing. So I would try to learn in my living room, like how to break dance. And I was obviously like, terrible, like trying to do windmills, like on carpet.  

Can you do them now? I bet you could  

Not anymore. I am learning how too. Um, but yeah, I just started at my local dance studio and I think, um, the director of the studio, I think after a summer of like, you know, you go once a week, that was like the thing I look forward to every week, one hour, every Wednesday I would go and you’d learn, you know, a combo that I would always forget or never remember. Uh, and then at the end of the four weeks, you like basically do the whole routine, but I never, I couldn’t remember it. So I just would, um, freestyle.

I love this imagery that I’m seeing in my head. Do you remember I’m so I’m just, I want to fill out the imaginary scenario that I’m creating. Do you remember any of the music that you were doing?  

Uh, rhythm nation was the first song that I danced too, but specifically the instrumental part then. And it was just like, and I was the only guy in my class. It was maybe it was all girls and they probably had been doing it going 

Since they were three. 

Yeah. Since there were three and like, they were, they were so much better than I was, but I first, I just loved being in the studio. And just like, even though I never did the choreography, I would just dance myself the mirror. And I was like, Oh, wow, this is so like fun. And it was just fun. So I taught like after that summer was over, I was like, mom, I want to do it again next summer. You know? And then I guess my, the director of my studio, Michelle Ferraro, she approached, my mom was like, Hey, like, you know, your son, like, he’s really good at this thing. I would have loved to have him take more classes to get better at learning how to dance. And my mom was kind of hesitant and she, you know, it’s expensive. And again, we came from a lower middle class, uh, and she kindly agreed to like, you know, have a lower tuition or, and things like that. And kind of take me under her wing. And she would give me privates on just the basics of dance. I wouldn’t even say it was ballet. Like I specifically remember like, you know, first learning the positions, but like having to like, learn how to do a leap was like, she would set like hula hoops on the floor and he would have to like jump into a hula hoop and I’m 16 years old. And there’s like three year olds, like also doing  

Incredible. Um, Aw, what are unique start to the journey. I love this also super shout out to parents who put their kids through dance and to teachers who scholarship and put special care into students that they see potential. And that’s so special.  

Yeah. I am forever in debt to, you know, my parents and also my director who I think like, I’m like, what would I have done? Like as a teen, I would probably been in so much trouble. I was already getting into trouble before I started dancing. So I think bands like kept me out of trouble. And, you know, you go to a group of friends and, you know, after I started dancing a little bit more, you start to, you know, I, I ended up doing like competition. Um, but yeah, I mean, I, I started probably similar to you doing dance competition, but, and I was, I was never, I was years behind all the kids in my, at my age level and my studio was pretty decent for the area and like the regional competition. So  

Michelle Ferraro, that’s a name that I know like, absolutely. Yeah. She’s great.  

And I think also what helped is that I grew up, like there were three other males, like at my studio that were around the same age as me that were incredible. Some that you probably know, but again, I was like, I was like an infant compared to them. So it was always great to have somebody to look up and just watch and learn because I am such a visual person of like how to learn. Um, but yeah, I mean, um, Michelle, like really, she was like, you should take ballet, you know? And it really helped me in the sense of like, just being disciplined and, and learning how to, you know, memorize, you know, when you’re the bar, like how to memorize things, you know, and one of my first jobs actually as a dancer was I, I randomly audition to dance for the New York Knicks basketball team. You know, they have a kid squad that would dance, like during timeouts and specifically at their home games and during halftime. Um, but I went, I remember going to the audition and not and doing pretty bad. And I came home from school one day and there was a message on the answering machine that I got gotten the job. I was like, okay, well now I actually have to do this. And I couldn’t remember how to, um, I couldn’t remember the steps. So the captain and the choreographer of the small group of kids, there was maybe 15 of us. They would always create a moment in their routine where everyone would stop or the kids would stop and like go down and I would just get the freestyle and then everything else. I was always like three steps behind and watching the kid next to me.  

Yes. Like full side eye. I 

Completely, completely,

I call it the one at Jack. Yep.  

As we would, some of the dances were only 15 seconds because it’s like a timeout and basketball. So it would be 10 seconds of me doing this. And then five seconds of like, do whatever you want.  

And everybody else is bugging. And you just like feature. I love this. What a brilliant, smart director, again, the smart director. And this might be the beginning of you becoming a smart director. Matter of fact, I love the, this trajectory like, Oh my gosh, it’s so poetic jumping through hula hoops and then probably jumping through actual hoops for the rest of your life right? Now you are working very closely with some of the most influential pop people of our time, Billie Eilish, uh, Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber, Pink, Blackpink, which is different from regular. And I’m such a fan PS, Selena Gomez, the 1975, which by the way, I am a super fan. Um, so from where I stand the way it looks like you use choreography, not just in the work that you choreograph, but in the work that you direct as well from the out, from where I stand, it looks like you use dance as like a supporting act, a supporting thing, a very essential, but supporting element. In other words, like not the star, it’s not like dance break six, seven, eight. Um, and am I totally off target or off target or is that how you, how you think about dance? Yeah,  

I think you’re pretty spot on, I don’t know if I, if that’s ha that’s how I think about it. Or even like, sometimes the jobs that I get, I don’t even know. That’s what they’re thinking about a lot of the time it’s like I get paired with an artist that is either really interested in dancing and wanting to dance. Um, so it’s, it usually starts with wanting to learn how to dance. First of all, because a lot of the people that I work with don’t dance at all, um, or they say that they don’t dance  

That old wives tale.   

And even just, I think the word dance as a broad term of blanket statement and of, you know, it isn’t a genre, but like, I would say like dance and movements, they’re very much the same, but I think it, I think it just depends how you see it because dance is a difficult thing to do, if you’re a master at it. Which like, or if it’s you, if it’s your career, it’s like us as dancers that have trained years, we don’t think it’s, I mean, it’s not difficult. It is difficult, but we don’t think of it as something that’s difficult compared to like someone who doesn’t train in dance, just like someone, like, I don’t sing, I think singing is a difficult thing, you know? Um, but yeah, it usually it starts with wanting to learn how to dance or move. And sometimes it evolves into a lot of the times, some of the things I’m trying to teach them is like becoming aware, like awareness of what your body is doing or what it feels like to do this thing and how you can connect it to movement.  Um, and every project is different. Like some things that come in, you know, it’s a day of rehearsal and it’s like, someone wants to learn how to dance in a day. That is it’s, it’s a bit laughable, but it’s like, sometimes it’s the job that you have to do. And, um, and some projects you have more time and sometimes it’s like, people are preparing to dance for this one thing, but if it’s, sometimes it is one day and, um, a lot of the time it’s, it’s them, once they discover like, Oh, I actually don’t want to dance and to learn the steps, I just want to be able to move and like be expressive. Yes. Right. And depending on, like, if it’s a music video that has a loose narrative, it’s like, how can we express the narrative through our bodies? Because they’re already doing it, you know, in a music video is so visually and, um, through voice and sonically. So just kind of that added bonus is like, can we do it physically? Yeah. Metaphysically. And is there something that connects to it? And again, there are some projects that if it’s like, they just want to learn the steps and it’s just dance. And it becomes very visual. And like, I guess, like for, for me and my tastes like it’s accessory, you know, and sometimes it’s to amplify the productions, to amplify the song with the artist and not necessarily tell a story,  

Um, on the subject of dance while we are here, can we please talk it, he’s probably one of the lesser known artists that you’ve worked for or choreographed, but it is my favorite music video, certainly that you’ve done. But out of like a bundle, like dare I say, this is in my top 10, um, Leon Else’s music video for dance. I absolutely adore it. And it is one of it’s one of my favorite things about it is that dance is the star. It is big. It is brave. It is expressive. It is bold. And actually I take that back. It is Leon dancing. That is the star. Yes. Dance is huge in that piece. Um, the camera movement, I don’t know if this was intentional. I can’t wait to find out if it was the camera movement reminds me a little bit of Flashdance. It feels like, like her audition sequence, like we’re really following her dancing. And I don’t know, I like my heart rate goes up. Just thinking about that music video. Could you talk a little bit about that experience in that process for you?  

That was like one of the first videos that I was asked to choreograph as a choreographer up until that I was spending a lot of time just assisting and like being a sponge and learning from a lot of my mentors. And I, um, was working on a job as an assistant and I met, um, what they call the commissioner. You know, the, the role of a commissioner in the world of music videos is a basically bring on the teams to, you know, execute the videos. And so I was working, um, on a job for Madonna, I think with Megan Lawson and, um, the commissioner Michelle Anne and who now is like a mentor of mine. She, she, um, approached me and was like, Hey, would, would you be interested in choreographing? You know, this video and this, the artist is here’s the song. Um, this is a treatment, you know, a lot of times you get a treatment, which is basically a rough overview of visually the tone of the music video. Sometimes it’s very detailed and sometimes it’s like one page and just text and maybe one image, uh, and this one was very vague and it was just like, Leon Else, the song was called dance. He, Leon himself actually, he used to dance. He was like, he was a dancer in the movie Nine, I think. Um, and he just, he wanted to dance and the song was very like Prince inspired. And the director was very inspired, um, by  Flashdance, but I think I need to rewatch it and see  

It’s really the camera movement, not the angles or the, obviously not the location, but the spirit of it, the way that it’s championed movement,  

There is a Fatboy Slim music video that he referenced, which is, uh, with Christopher Walken,

It’s weapon of choice. That video is incredible. 

It’s It’s Spike Jones. And I think 

Brian Friedman Okay.

I thought it was Wade 

Well, Brian, Brian plays his dance double, sorry, let me take that back. Brian, Was it Michael Rooney?  

It might’ve been, he was working with Fatboy Slim at the time. Um, so yeah, those were some of the little, um, tonal references. Um, and so I kind of took it upon myself instead of, I didn’t have a reel, at the time I was just assisting. So I spend a few months, a few dollars to get a friend of mine that had a camera rented a space, and conceptually basically shot a concept video, full thing top to bottom, which is very rare. Like you don’t really do that, but I had nothing to show at the time. Um, and I worked on it for maybe three days and then we spent one night shooting. It, it was like four of us paid for some lights. I had a friend of mine like help with some of the lighting and we, and we shot the video and I sent it over to Michelle  and Leon and the director. And they’re like, this is the video. This is, 

Oh, that’s cool. 

And it was, that was, yeah, it was really cool. And that was kind of the start of a, like, up until that point, I had been doing a lot of assisting and feeling like so much learning. And I was like, I wonder if, if any of this is paying off, let’s put this to the tests, you know? And, um, yeah, it, I kind of basically, they were like, we want to do exactly what you did. And top to bottom, you know, I had a chair, all the steps and we, I was like, I want to learn every single step that you did. And he nailed it. And I brought in actually Jillian, cause I’m not a tap dancer and there’s a tap sequence. And I was like, let’s just bring in all the friends.  And she came up with the tap sequence and she taught it to me and she ended up teaching it to Leon I think one day, um, and it was, yeah, I think it was the start of like a nice relationship between, um, me and Leon, me and the director, me and Michelle, again, it’s like strong mentor of mine still. Um, and yeah, it’s yeah, it’s definitely, I wish that he had done more. Um, he doesn’t, he doesn’t do music anymore, but he was, it was such a fun project to be a part of. And yeah. And it kind of like, I think, yeah, again, it was like a nice, like, um, launching pad for the start of like, feeling like a, getting confidence to be, I can do this myself, you know, and testing like, Oh, I have these ideas that I have in my head. Like, let’s put them on camera. Like I I’ve always wanted to. 

Uh, that’s so much fun. Um, that process that you’re talking about, like just trying it, film it, try to try to make on camera, the thing that you see in your head, um, and then submitting that and then getting no notes, but saying like, let’s just do that. It’s one of my favorite things. It doesn’t happen all the time. It sort of happened for Jillian Myers with Work Song, for Hozier, which was, uh, an awesome, shared moment in you and my dance history together. So fond of that period. Um, but I also, I did something similar with Anthony Ramos for, um, his song mind over matter, um, which was so much fun to brainstorm and create. And ultimately the thing we made transferred almost directly into what the final edit was. And it’s, I love that mode of making where you prototype it fast and rough, and then you upgrade it into this beautiful, Epic thing. Is that a process that you have sort of made commonplace in your work? Do you do this kind of pre-vis and then make it big?  

Honestly, that was probably the only time I ever did it. Um, and I think there’s, I mean, yes, I think there is a beauty in prototyping, something and it translating exactly the way you wanted, but I also am obsessed with this idea of collaboration and I’m always the person that thinks that, like I have the worst idea and there’s always somebody with a better idea. So let me throw my worst idea at the wall and someone who can come along and like make it even better. And then maybe someone will make that idea even better. So we get, you know, the, the mega product. Um, so I think, again, it just depends on the project. I love collaborating. I love talking to other creatives that have different perspectives. You know, I may see something in one light as a choreographer and dancer, but there might be a director who thinks of this or a cinematographer that thinks that the camera should go here or it should have this type of movement to translate this type of emotion that I’m not seeing when thinking about, because sometimes like when you’re so involved in the projects, you lose sight of it, you know, at once, like something that you’re seeing as a forest now you’re inside and you only see trees, right?  So it takes somebody from an outside perspective, um, to, to be like, Oh, there’s something behind you that you’re not seeing. 

Yes. I really love that idea.  Those, those prototype videos can be really limiting. If you fall in love with that one thing that you’ve watched 75 times on your phone, it can be really hard to let go of certain ideas. Yeah. That’s, that’s cool. That’s very wise. Um, okay. So, so in terms of like becoming a choreographer for music videos, becoming a director, becoming all of these many things, I am super interested in your trajectory because you’ve played different roles in different dance worlds. So it’s not even just that you’re carrying a different title, but you’ve shown up in different like worlds of dance. Um, you were a touring dancer with Ariana Grande a right. Yes. But you also performed with Kidd Pivot in Reviser, and this is, um, a company that you may not know. Some people, well, you Matty P you know, but if you’re listening and don’t know Kidd Pivot, don’t be harsh on yourself. Um, if you don’t know Crystal Pite, don’t be harsh on yourself, but do go find out because it’s true that some people might not know them, but I don’t think I know anybody that does know, but does not love in crystal pipe. Could you talk a little bit about that for a moment?  

Yeah. I, I th I think, again, it kind of stems from, um, when I first started dancing. Um, and again, going back to my dance studio at Michelle Ferraro’s, she, um, gave a lot of the students the opportunity to take classes from outside choreographers. And one of those choreographers just to kind of a backstory who was became, one of my mentors was Justin Giles, who also, you know, very well. And he came in during the summer intensive and he was the first male figure that at the time, which was called lyrical, which were kind of contemporary, right. He was the first person that was doing something that I experienced that was different. That wasn’t, um, necessarily all the, my leg didn’t go in the air. I could barely do a double turn. He was like listening to music and his physicality was something that I could relate to because he came from a background of the sports and like, it wasn’t just like what your body can physically do. Right. It was like, there was something more behind it. Um, and I was really drawn to that. So I think once I kind of, once I took his class, I was kind of, I was, I was in the, like really in deep and I just reached out to him and I just started following him around the country and taking his classes on conventions. And I think after a year or two, he basically was like, took me under his wing. I started assisting him and, and learning from him and basically his technique, his movement style, um, which like then kind of opened up a door into like contemporary dance. And I was like, what is, you know, I want to learn more, you know, so I would do more research about other choreographers and, um, who else came up, Chris Jacobson, Mia Michaels, you know, all these amazing choreographers and teachers, uh, Peter Chu as well. And I started working with Peter chew through the commercial. Uh, I moved to LA in 2005 and I, I was doing this variety show called Paris by Night, which is an it’s, uh, an interesting projects. But, uh, I don’t know if it’s still even going on anymore, but, um, it’s basically a Vietnamese variety show that it’s all, all it’s mainly Asian and it’s, it was based in a way it’s basically a variety show of comedians, singers, actors, sketch comedy and dance. And that’s where I met Peter Chu, Pam Chu a lot of the working dancers like that work here in LA  

Bryan Tanaka was  in on that mix.  

Uh, um, Tracy Shibata like literally everybody. Um, and yeah, so I met Peter Chu doing, doing that commercial project and he ended up taking, uh, asking, inviting me to, um, be a part of a workshop for a show that he was putting on. 

Nothing sticks?

Nothing sticks, and that was, uh, referred. I was referred to Peter through Pam who again, came to my studio and would teach at intensives. Yeah. Pam taught me. Yeah. Um, and I ended up like saying yes, and I worked with Peter and at the time Peter was working with Crystal Pite. He was part of Kidd Pivot. And he basically introduced me to Crystal Pite, not physically, but, um, the, the movement language. And, and then again, similar, the same feeling of when I discovered Crystal’s work was the same feeling that when I discovered Justin Giles’ work,  

Like this is home in my body.  

Yeah. Yeah. I think so. Maybe not yet, but it looked like it was, and it looked like it felt right. You know, it didn’t. Yeah. But I was like, this is something that it’s calling to me and, um, it’s striking something within a, and so I, I would study Crystal Pite’s work for years, just watching videos, going to any shows that I could,  

Right. Because the videos aren’t  many she’s or has been up until very recently, when you can find some full length works online, getting your eyes on Crystal’s work is not as easy as getting your eyes on Tik Tok or like YouTube dance stars. You had to work  

At the time, YouTube, there was maybe 15 second clips of like a trailer to her shows. And then again, at the time, like on the boards had something where you could purchase Dark Matters for a limited time. And I purchased it and recorded it somehow. I don’t know how I watched the show like obsessively and I learned everyone’s part and I would go into the studio and do it to the best of my ability. And I kind of like tried to, you know, obviously I don’t understand like where the movement is being derived from, but I would try to replicate it. Um, and then I, then I did more research and then I would time block, um, my summers to only go to intensives for Crystal Pite. And I took from basically every single company member that would teach Crystal Pite workshops for like three years.   I would do it. I did it and I just ate it up. And, um, in 2018, a couple of years ago, um, through taking all the workshops and meeting all of the company members and being, um, close friends with some of them, Peter being one of them Cindy Silgado was a teacher and friend as well. Jermaine Spivey um, there, there came a point when Crystal was making a new show and she was looking for an understudy at the time and the three company members and  Beauchesne and who’s the, um, is the associate director now, but I was taking his classes like every summer, they all kind of referred me and I had never met Crystal and she had never seen me dance. It was only just through the company saying like, you know, should email Matty and, and just talk to him. Um, and ironically, she, she did, and it was such a weird time because it was like around the time it was actually like maybe two days before my dad had just passed away. I remember getting an email in my inbox and it was Crystal Pite. And I remember looking at it and being, I can’t look at this right now, but this is really big. And also again, at the time, like that was only two years ago, I kind of like was like, I need to like, put this goal aside. It was a goal that I had for a long time to dance with Kidd Pivot. And there was a time where I was like, it’s just not in the cards for me. You know, I’m going to focus on being a choreographer and directing and stuff like that. And, you know, she came up with, um, uh, basically a proposal of like, can you, you know, she gave me three options. Can you come in to Vancouver and just stay for a week and watch and learn, um, and just get to know each other. Uh, and then option B was, would you want to be an understudy and learn all the male parts? And then the third was like, if you were really interested come for the whole creation watch and maybe I’ll have, I’ll be able to like write in apart for you. And I was like, yes, option three. Like we’re doing option three.  

Wow. How incredible is that? Yeah. Yeah,  

It was, I mean, it was an incredible experience that I’m obviously always hold very dear to my heart. Um, but yeah, I, I went to Vancouver and got to work with who I call the Avengers of Dance, because it’s literally, you know, these masters of dance from all around the world and they’re so good at what they do specifically. And when they come together, it’s like, they are the Avengers.  

Oh my gosh, I’m going to Photoshop a flyer. Um, it’s true though. The, the, I think there’s something special though. I do want to point out like Crystal’s work is not, I maybe similar to yours is not like about dance and like the spectacle of dance. It’s theatrical, it’s comedic in strange ways. It’s dark in beautiful ways. It’s it’s narrative, but it’s, it’s abstract. It is. I am falling short of words and I’m a person that podcasts. Theres also something special about her team there. They’re not just physical bodies that are great physical, um, sculptors, but intellectual being sensitive beings, thoughtful beings, like people that to spend a summer with, it sounds like the dream.  

Summer and yeah. A half a year, you know, touring and performing the show and working on things. And, um, yeah, and I think similar to Crystal when she started her work was very dance heavy, but she other interests kind of stemmed from just doing the one dance thing. Um, and also like there’s something to be said in the people that the environment that she creates, you know, she brings in these amazing people and she has so much trust in them, which gives them a lot of confidence and, um, to produce amazing things, you know? And  

Would you call it a nurturing environment?  

I would say nurturing, challenging. Um, it’s, it’s like all of the, and sometimes like, it doesn’t feel nurturing, but then after you get through the monotony of it, you realize, you look back and you’re like, Oh, wow. She like, she yoda(ed) me a little bit.  

Ah, Ooh. Masterful, like  

It’s, it’s the most physical I’ve ever been in my entire life. Awesome. In terms of the movement, for sure.  

I can’t imagine I have taken her class once before at Jacob’s pillow. Um, w uh, I went to go watch Dark Matters there, and she taught a small workshop and it was very gentle. Like it was designed to be accessible to any, anybody that wanted to explore the work. And I was a baby infant learning how to walk and the next day. My body was like, Oh, you’re you thought you were a dancer? Yeah. Okay. That’s cute.  

When I came in the first day, first week of rehearsals of creation, again, like I wasn’t really actively dancing. I was really focused on in choreographing and everybody else in the company has been company NDT, Batsheva, um, tends theater  

Dance. Down.  

And they’re doing it like the whole year. I haven’t been there. I hadn’t been dancing like that three or four or five years. Yeah. I was shot out of the cannon. Yeah.  

I love where, where it landed you. I mean, that’s a dream.  

Yeah. And I think, yeah, part of the, um, the reason why I wanted to take part in it is a, you know, check that box off of my list of things, but also like to learn from all of these people. Yeah. You know, Crystal and Eric and all the, all the company members, you know, Jay, the production designer, sound designers, you know, seeing how things get put together. So interesting to me, that was why I decided I wanted to choreograph and become a director because like, when I first started dancing, like, I didn’t even know that you could dance with dancing was a career path. And the first time I was on set, I’m a part of this show, but also on the other side of it, there’s a whole show happening that you’re watching that you either take notice to, or, you know, and that was something that I couldn’t get over to show that’s happening behind the show that’s being shot. Right.  

The show that’s being put on for the performer, the performer is standing there performing, receiving this show. Yes. Amazing. Yes. I love it. And it’s a unique, that’s such a unique perspective.  

Yes. Yeah. Yeah. It was something that was like, who knew that things happen? Like how does these things get made? And I think it’s, yeah. And the same thing with Crystal, like, you know, we put on the show in the theater, but people don’t, people in the audience don’t understand, like the sound design that’s being triggered. And during this part of the, you know, choreography or, and why this light means this thing and like all the people that are behind the stage and so interesting it’s magic.  

It is. Um, I’m glad that you mentioned this team element and the many different moving parts of a production. What I would love to talk about now is just like focus in on the relationship between artist and director in this, in this specific conversation. Let’s talk about artist and choreographer. I do, I would consider like crystal Pite the artist and her team, the movement part, but there’s like the artist. And then the movement part, that’s such an interesting relationship to me. And in, in pop, at least there are a few examples of that team working really, really well. Like I’m the one that’s the closest to me obviously is JT and Marty Kudelka, but there are others there’s um, like Ryan Heffington and SIA, or Michael Jackson and Michael Peters who did, uh, who did Beat it and Thriller, um, uh, Frank Gatson and a number of people. Like there are combinations where you find that one plus one does not equal two, but one plus one equals a million. Yes. Um, and I, I guess you’ve got some really creatively fruitful collaborations, relationships going on right now. What do you think is that exponent, or what do you look for in a collaborator that equals 1 million.

I think chemistry for one and intention. It’s like some artists that I work with, sometimes the chemistry just isn’t there and the intention is different than what I’m interested in. And then sometimes, you know, we have the same interests, the same intention, and usually that’s where kind of the spark starts there. And then from there, you can start to, you know, for instance like Billie or, or Shawn, like Shawn is, is a new relationship I have, but it’s a very potent, and it’s a very strong one. He’s very interested in dance and theater and movement, and might not always want to access it, but he’s interested in it because it makes him feel a certain way. And it, maybe it adds to another part of his life that it feels like it’s helping and assisting whether it’s songwriting or just being a kind human or just being more open to other art forms.  

Most all of the people I work with are musicians, you know, sometimes actors, but, um, and being to like wanting to connect to their body is like also really important, um, 

As an instrument. 

Yeah. As an instrument, as a form of meditation, um, and just, uh, connecting to something that feels like, um, that’s, that’s deeper than it’s, that’s inside themselves, you know? Um, and you know, these collaborations that you’re talking about, you know, Marty and JT and Ryan and SIA, like there was a point where I was like, Oh, I really, I really want that, but in net. But I think in the way that I like to work, it never really, at least from my perspective, it never really, I guess my relationships are strong, but they’re not to me. Like when I see JT, it’s like, he’s such a dancer and you know, and him and Marty are, you know, Marty, you can tell it’s Marty he’s, they are one person, the one entity, you know, and same with like Maddie and Ryan and SIA, you know, the three of them were like, I like to be in service to the artist.  I like to work with them and help them discover their own voice. You know, Billie has a dance background, but she’s not necessarily interested in doing, in running five, six, seven, eight. She wants to know. Yeah. Yeah. Where I can propose an idea, try this thing here, five, six, seven, eight, and she’ll learn it and then bend it and manipulate it to feel more natural. Cause she’s saying, thinking like, this feels better for me or, or this makes more sense or, you know, doing this here feels unnatural. So I think that’s, my job is to kind of be that, that honest mirror and say, I’m like, try this thing. This is what I think would work well, and let’s talk about it. Let’s have a discussion. And a lot of the time, these that’s where it starts like having discussions and kind of getting to know each other and trust.  Yeah. And I think the key thing is like making somebody feel safe so they can do whatever they want behind closed doors, when it’s me and the artist, let’s just, let’s, let’s just be around and mess around. Let’s try the things that we can try now, you know, let’s do the most silly, insane thing and get it out of our system because maybe there’s something that we feel that will connect and then maybe we can, you know, let’s get us started on a right path, you know, and then we fine tune it until it’s ready to be, to be seen because I’m a, I’m an advocate for like, not everything needs to be shown and seen there’s magic behind the process and incubation and, and development, you know, and let’s wait, you know, 

Mystery. 

Yeah. Think so.  

Ah, yes. You are a magician. I think, um, always something of this sleeve. You don’t need to see everything. That’s the spoils, the magic.  

Yeah. Yeah. Showing little bits and pieces, but I mean, I think there’s, there’s massive behind, like how did they do that thing or, Oh God, yes. That didn’t come from, you know, it makes you want more, at least for me, when I see things that I don’t understand and I’m dying to know what it is, it makes me want to keep watching it, you know? Yeah.  

And that is the goal. Okay. That’s awesome. Right. Like this edge of the seat thing, that’s the goal. Okay. So let’s talk about Shawn for a sec. Can we talk about Wonder, because Holy smokes, it is so beautiful and powerful. It is wonderful. Um, I adore it and I’m so proud of you. I think it’s a awesome example of you and your work. Like I see you in it. I see him in it. It does seem like a service to not like the pop machine, but to expression in general to, um, imagination, to whimsy. And these are all things that I love. I think it’s so great. Um, what, what did you learn on that project? That’s what I want to know. What did you learn?  

Um, uh, man, I learned so many things,  

Right? What did you not learn  

The project? And one of the, probably today, the biggest project that I, um, that I’ve done. And I’m so grateful for, to Shawn for giving me the opportunity, because there were times where maybe, you know, as a new director, you know, having trust and faith in someone that they can execute things is a big deal, especially when you’re a huge pop star and there’s a lot at stake. That’s things you have to realize, you know, and obviously like he, he was willing to take a risk. Um, but I think also at the heart of it, I really connected to the song and  the honesty that he was trying to get across. Um, and like most music videos, you, you pitch against other directors, you know, and whoever has, you know, and obviously the artist picks, and there was a point where I was pitching against another director and he, there was a time where he would potentially just wanted me to be the choreographer, which I’m fine with, you know, I have a great relationship with them.  And again, like, I want to do whatever I’m in service to Shawn and whatever he wants. And he thinks is the best I’m going to do it full force. Obviously I’m going to be bummed that like, potentially if I don’t get to direct it, you know, but there was something in me that like, really, I really cared about this project. And I just had a conversation with him. I was like, listen, I really care this thing. I really care about this thing. And I think that kind of stuck with him and he kind of made the decision, like, let’s do it, you know? Um, but I think from what I learned is like how to be a great communicator as we’ve discussed before. And, um, I’ve never, I’ve, I’ve felt I’ve never been a fan of, of egos. Um, and I think when you can lose your ego, you can receive like so much more, um, and utilizing the team that I put around me to help Shawn and, and, and execute the vision. Um, and it was a long process, but I think like getting to work with all these people that I admire so much, and they’re so good at what they do, it just fuels the fire. Um, and it gets me really excited to see like my friends and peers, like, do what they do at such a high level. Um, and there’s a synergy between like having a strong vision and people also like really, um, getting excited about that vision, you know, and it’s kind of that yes and, um, yes, let’s do this and let’s do this and train and sure enough, we would build and build and build. And I’m a huge fan of referencing. I think referencing is a huge tool that people don’t always use. Right.  

It’s in so many ways how we communicate when we deal in imaginary things and things that we imagination things that are yet to be created. Yeah.  

Yeah. Cause some people don’t have vision or it’s really hard to like, obviously what I see in my head is different, what you see here, but if we have a strong reference points and I can understand that this is solely a reference, this is a starting point. Um, I think that really helped me.  

Do you, do you draw on just your internal database of remembered images or are you a Pinterest person? Uh, a Google images person. I know I have, I have a couple of secret databases that, um, that you listeners will have to pay for it. If you want to know where I get all my brilliant gems. But when you make references, are you pulling from your memory or do you have you have secret places?  

It’s, it’s, it’s a little bit of everything. Um, books that I read, because I love to write and being good, being exceptional with your words and how to illustrate a picture is it’s valuable. 

So valuable, especially if you’re pitching, if you have to get the job before you have the job, you have to be able to explain what you’re going to do with it.  

Yeah. So I think, like I read a lot of books of different genres poetry, because they would poetry it’s really short and make sometimes long, but usually really potent in their words. Um, I have visual databases, shot deck is an incredible database. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that. Um, which basically it’s a catalog of many exquisite films and it’s basically just screen grabs of beautiful films, um, um, YouTube,  

Right? The monster of all database,  

Um, for a long time when I was learning, because I didn’t go to film school, I would go to the public library and just get books and read and study, you know, how to direct and things like that. Um, yeah, it comes from, it comes from all different mediums.  

That’s awesome. I love this. Um, well it looks like you are excited playing in this space. It looks like you are indulging in pop and entertainment. Um, you are able to make and create and live in other areas of the dance world, but it looks like you’re enjoying this, this place that you’re in. Um, I am curious though, because especially because it’s changing so much right now, what is your attitude towards the entertainment industry in general. 

In general? Uh, I love entertainment. I love all the different forms that entertainment offers, whether it’s, um, surely just to transport someone, to make them feel good. If it’s to connect to somebody to tell a story that maybe, you know, the loss of somebody or, you know, graduating high school is something that we can connect to that emotionally. Um, that tells a story. Um, obviously there are bad things about entertainment that, you know, the news is a form of entertainment, which could lead you down a dark path,  

Another episode maybe.  

But I think, I think again, talking about perspective, I think it’s just how you look at it. You know, you could take it at face value or you can look at it and say, you know, it could be, you can take it personally or you can just let it run off your back. And I think it’s depends on how you do it. I like, I love entertainment. I love what I do. I love watching other people do what they do, especially when they’re really good at it. You know, it makes me want to be better at what I do know  

Well said my friend, 

What about you? 

Um, I think actually very similarly people say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but everything is in the eye of the beholder. I think the world of entertainment and of entertainers, I think it is a brilliant medium and speaking of yes, and.. I think that it is best used when it is a, um, a cloak, like a disguise for education. It’s one of my biggest aspirations in life to make education entertaining and to like sneak attack somebody and inform them, introduce them to a new idea, um, get them understanding things deeper, but they think they just watched a movie or they think they just watched a music video, but like they think they just had fun, but actually there was some mastery, some masterminding going on underneath. So that’s, that’s why I love it. And that’s what I think about it. Um, but, but again, all in the eye of the beholder, I’ve certainly had experiences with entertainment where I thought that it was telling me that I’m wrong. So I felt bad. Or I thought that it was not a place that I was allowed. So I felt like an outsider, but those were all just what I thought about it. That wasn’t the industry itself doing that to me. So, so yeah, I, I agree. I relate.  And on that, maybe we, we wrap it up. Matthew Peacock. Yay. Thank you so much for being here. I can’t explain, um, low key created a podcast so that I could talk to my friends in depth like this, about our work uninterrupted for an hour at a time. I really, I really appreciate this. Thank you so much. 

Thank you, Wilson. 

Oh, and you’re great at talking about yourself and your work, by the way, that was so much fun.  

All right. What did I tell you so much? Good. Right. Such a treat. I especially loved the way that Matty talks about collaboration and the evolution of ideas. I so dig this concept that the first idea might not be the best idea. It might even be a bad idea, but only once it’s out there in the open, in the, uh, trusted space, which hopefully includes some bright, brave and bold collaborators. Only, only once it’s out there, can it be built upon or even broken down or otherwise constructed into something? Great. Great. Is his work great is his being, thank you, Matty Peacock for that. Now let’s talk about you and your greatness shall we? Let’s celebrate. Let’s do some wins this week. I am celebrating my past self and a lesson that I learned from her when I stumbled upon a sizzle reel for a web series that I made nine years ago. Holy Smokes. Um, the series, if you call three episodes, a series is called it more than moves and it is still on YouTube. Actually. I think you might have to look More than Moves TV to find it. And, um, I posted the sizzle that I found to my personal Instagram account last week. It is funky. It is smart. It is fun. And it is what Matty and I were talking about at the end of that interview, which is education disguised as entertainment. It was awesome. And it taught me so many things. Um, my long-term lesson learned, however, and what I want to share with you today is that it is wise to spread out your resources. I spend a lot of my hard earned cashola on that project. And I turned it into three 20 minute episodes if given a second chance, which who knows, I would probably turn that into 20 3 minute episodes. Um, yeah. So spread out the resources gang, but do not spread out the enthusiasm, if anything rang true to me about watching that sizzle it’s that I was and am a person that loves dance. It feels so good. Celebrations. All right, now it’s your turn. What is going well in your world? What are you celebrating past, present or future?  

All right. My friend, congratulations. I am proud of you. I am celebrating your win seriously. I wish you could see me. I’m grinning ear to ear. All right. Now, um, before I sign off, I want to let you know that it is not too late to register for the first month of the words that move me community membership. If you’re digging what you are hearing in here, then you will definitely be digging. What goes on in there. Um, of course it is a monthly membership. You can join at any time, but I’m exceptionally excited about this first month, which is February because the group of members that has assembled is simply incredible. So a special thank you to everyone who has pre-registered. I cannot wait to get this show on the road, um, to learn more about that, about the membership and how you might register, be sure to check out TheDanaWilson.com and click on the Membership tab. Yes, indeed. The website has been going through some changes. Thank you so much, Malia Baker. Um, yeah, super simple. Now all you need to do in order to find more information and register for the Words that Move Me Community Membership is go to the theDanawilson.com and click on the membership tab. Boom. That is it for me today. You guys have an awesome rest of your day, night, week, month, year, all of it. And, um, of course, keep it funky. 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 or review because your words move me. Number two things 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. #50 The Voice Doctor: RAab Stevenson

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #50 The Voice Doctor: RAab Stevenson
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When I asked RAab Stevenson (vocal coach extraordinaire) “what makes a GREAT singer?”, his answer was not what I was expecting… Listen in as we talk greatness, training, lifestyle, myths about the voice, and warnings about the recording industry.

Show Notes:

Quick Links:

Liv’s Music Video, “OVER” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmEXH0oHAR0

Work with RAab Stevenson: https://kimadproductions.com/?page_id=50

Voice Goodies:

Throat coat tea: https://amzn.to/37ORrRF10:23

Throat comfort tea : https://amzn.to/2K1tcY710:24

Menuca Honey: https://amzn.to/2VQfwBW10:24

Airwaves Gum: https://amzn.to/37MX0jy10:25

Grethers: https://amzn.to/3qDyoCe

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. How are you? Welcome to the podcast. I’m jazzed that you’re here and yes, I’m jazzed for this episode. Oh my God. You’re in for a treat today. My guest on this episode is Rob Stevenson, vocal coach to the stars. And this episode lines up perfectly with my win for the week. This is my win. If you’re new to the podcast, by the way I do wins every week. It’s how it starts. I start then you go, so get ready. Okay. My win this week is that I have directed my first official music video and it is out there in the world. Ready to be enjoyed by you or by anyone with access to the internet. I suppose, um, the, the recording artist responsible for said, video goes by Liv, shout out Liv if you’re listening. Um, and live is one of Rob Stevenson’s clients. So the world is truly a tiny little acorn. My win this week is live and my guest this week is lives coach. So cool. So excited to get into it. I do want to dig into this win a little bit more though, because I would be a fool to not talk about all of the things that I got to practice on this gig and just kind of take stock for myself, but also for you. Um, one of the things that I got to practice that I really encourage you to be practicing and be mindful of as well, is this, um, the, the ability to scale a vision in your head in accordance to the budget of the project. Uh, for example, in this case, do we use my busted projector from Amazon or do we use a 20,000 lumen projector that comes with his own projection operator?  Um, shout out projector, Paul, what up! Or, or do we go with the 30,000 lumen projector that weighs 200 pounds and might look better, but would also take like 45 minutes to move in between shots? Like, do we pay for the lumens or do we pay for the time? Um, another thing that I got to practice on set of this video is editing fast. I rescaled some of the video files for our projectionist. Like in real time, as we were shooting I’m scaling, um, the video files, it was a really awesome kind of higher pressure editing environment than what I’m used to. Um, obviously we were on a clock, obviously we’re on a budget and that really applied pressure that I have not been used to, um, before. So it was, it was super fun meeting that with a willingness to fail publicly willingness to, um, willingness for it to not be perfect on the first go round.  Another thing I got to practice is is this decision-making tool of when to budge and when not to budge, in terms of your vision, something like fighting for the dream location, for example. One of the other things I got to practice is preparedness. Just call me Sergeant Spreadsheet because I love a spreadsheet. I love a schedule. I love sticking to the schedule. Um, yeah, my spreadsheets, my shot lists definitely helped me deliver under schedule. Um, so did my kick butt team! Shout out to the, my new VIP DP, Luke Orlando, um, shout out to Artifact Content, the production house, responsible shout out to Arian. My buddy who helped me with the edit, um, super shout out to AJ, Harpold and Ivan Koumaev for being the management team that gets creative vision. And that gets the role of movement for recording artists. Um, and of course, super thank you to Liv for being the reason all of this came together. I could not be more thrilled, super win, super winning. Oh, that’s my hat. Super wining. Okay. How about you? What’s going well in your world. What are you celebrating today?  

All right. Congratulations. I am so glad you’re winning really truly. You’re crushing it. Keep going. Just keep going. That’s all you have to do. Keep winning. I got you. All right. Oh, I shouldn’t be whispering. You’ll find out why in a second. All right. So this episode is going out to all of my art types with a voice that is actually all of you. Um, but specifically vocalists recording artists, voice actors, speakers, or shouters. If you’re a director or a first assistant director, um, people with a voice all across the globe, this episode goes out to you. It goes out specifically. It goes out to anyone interested in using their voice and using it for a long time. The timing of this episode is absolutely perfect for me because just last week in my interview with Martha Nichols, we talked about my vocal nodules and my absolute awe of people who can sing. Um, and by the way, that includes Martha and almost all of the people that I work with all of the time. So I, in, in my life and my creative life, I feel a little bit like a black sheep, um, on the vocal front. And it is a huge point of insecurity for me. Um, my inability to sing or even in most cases hum the melody that I’m choreographing to, uh, anyways, well, we’ll talk about it later. I don’t want to spend so much time on the woe is me, but I do want to tell you that I am shifting my thoughts about my voice after this conversation with RAab and you might as well. So whether you are a super pro songstress or a person who is interested in becoming a song person, a songbird, this episode is absolutely for you. So go grab some tea with honey. He will tell you what kind of honey, by the way. So listen up for that, um, and grab a cup of water and a straw. If you would like and get ready to meet Rob Stevenson and get ready to meet your new and improved voice. Enjoy.  

**cup bubbles**

RAab: Hey, somebody has been practicing.  

Dana: Do I sound like butter? Thank you, RAab. Thank you! Gentle, easy-peasy okay. Everybody. I am so excited today. I cannot explain my enthusiasm and my history with this individual. My guest today is RAab Stevenson. I am thrilled, RAab, thank you so much for being here. Um, so it’s par for the course on the podcast. All of my guests always introduce themselves. RAab, what would you like us to know about you?  

RAab: Um, my name is Robert Stevenson. Um, my artist’s name when I was recording and putting out music myself, we called me RAab. Some people call it Ray-ab, uh, R with two As one B and the quick story behind that, we was just trying to find something to be cool. And one day we had a friend who was acting as a personal manager for me at the time Mike Berry, we were sitting behind a car that’s named a Saab and I was like, Hey man, how do you pronounce that car’s name? He said, Oh, that’s a saab. I was like, that’s it Rob Saab Raab. So I got back with the label and I was like, look, everyone just called myself. RAab was like, no, that’s not, that’s not deep enough. I like, no he’s gonna spell it. R A A B. And then the guys that the label, they were, um, part of the nation of Islam, it’s like, Oh man, we’ve got to keep the Quran and get deep with this thing. And I was like, we don’t have to. And that’s how the spelling came Large R Large A lower case a lower case b. So they put all that together.  

Dana: Like you think, you know, somebody and then you find out where their name came from. That’s so cool. Um, all right. So Rob, we met on my first world tour. Uh, it was Justin Timberlake’s Future Sex Love Show tour way back in 2007,  

RAab: 2006.  

Dana: Whoa. So I was, I was either 19 or 20 when we met. And you were a background vocalist on that tour code a shorthand for a background vocalist. We co we affectionately call them BVs. So you were a BV on that tour. Um, the show was in the round. You can watch it on HBO shameless plug. It was beautiful. And y’all BVs were all over that stage.  

RAab: We were dancing. Yeah. Yeah. It’s um, it was crazy. You guys had us all over the place as background singers. You normally don’t get that much attention. We’re normally stricken by just wearing all black sit in the background, basically seeing behind the curtain don’t get in the way that the artists do whatever they want to, but then you guys y’all show up. You Dane, you Dana AAJ, Marty, you know, comes coming to picture. It’s like, no, y’all got to be, get down everywhere. And sure enough, we went from one end of the stage to the other underneath the stage, singing and dancing, popping out, doing all the cool stuff. We were heavily involved in that. And, um, the thing that was really crazy is that which really helped us and, um, was, um, uh, the other vocalist Denosh Bennett. You know, she came from the world of, um, you know, broadway and, and dancing heavily and performing in music videos from Mystica to mystical, to Aliyah she’s she was heavily involved in that and she transitioned it to being a vocalist on that tour. So she was constantly in the background helping us out when you guys were out doing your thing with the artists, Justin as well. So it was really a big help. And, and what was crazy is that on the first tour Justified Tour that’s where I met Robin Wiley. She was a voice coach for Justin Timberlake, as well as the kids on a Mickey Mouse club. And, um, I would always ask her because we would have asked her, could I come to her hotel room, which was where we were staying at and we would have, um, vocal rehearsals there. Could I come in, just ask her a bunch of questions about the voice, never trying to be a voice coach, but just trying to be a better singer for the gig, you know? So I would be able to last and keep my job basically. Yeah. So she, she, um, after that tour, it was a success after that tour, leading in the Future Sex Love Show Tour, we had the promotional tour where we was doing all the club shows and stuff like that to kick before kicking off the arena tour. And, um, she fell ill and I was teaching people off of the CD that she gave me to warm up Justin or myself or the other singers when she wasn’t around. And I still carry that in my backpack in honor of her. So anytime I feel like I’m not good enough, or I need help, I’ll just put that in and I’ll listen. And she’s still giving me these little nuggets, you know, over the years. And that’s been since 2006, which is amazing. And, um, you know, at that point she fell ill. And one day we was here doing the club show here in Atlanta, believe it or not, which is where I live at the Tabernacle.  And my friends were coming to the show. I was so excited and I’m outside hanging with my friends and, and, uh, Big-E, Eric, Eric Burrows, I’m the head of security for Justin. He calls me, he said, Hey, what are you doing? And I was like, ah, my friends I’m getting, you know, bringing them into the show. And he was like, J needs you. I was like, is everything okay? He was like, yeah, he needs you to warm him up. And that was the very first time I started warming Justin up and I winded up, warming him up every single night for that whole tour. That was my job.  

Dana: I did not know that’s how that all went down. It seemed like such a natural progression to me. Um, and I suppose it may be, I mean, you, you alluded a little bit to trying to keep the gig. And I would imagine that for vocalists, like for dancers booking a tour is like kind of winning the lottery and they, there aren’t there aren’t 45 BVS on a tour. There are four or two. So it seems it must be a pretty competitive, um,  

RAab: It’s a, it’s an extremely competitive gig. And not only, not only just booking it, you have to be pretty, pretty, pretty talented to be able to sing multiple parts. You know, you gotta be able to sing a Soprano or Alto or Tenor. You gotta be really dynamic as a vocalist to be able to book a gig and really keep it. And in that case, it wasn’t like I was trying to be a brown nose or anything like that. I just wanted to do whatever it took to help because, you know, Darrell Diesel, who, unfortunately we lost this year, he passed in February. And, uh, he was how I got hired on that gig. I was in Atlanta and most people that get hired from gigs in LA, you normally have to be there in LA when you get the cattle call or, or a music director is looking for singers, dah, dah, dah, dah. And it’s a small window, you know, and just so happened. Justin was in Virginia Beach, finishing up the album with Pharrell and Chad and the engineered new diesel, you know, had them come by. They took them out to dinner and then that’s how he got hired. And then Justin had him to call and find the other guy. And when he called me, I was in a whole different space. I wouldn’t even thinking about coming on tour with anybody. I was trying to get back into the music industry, but my journey back in there, I had rededicated my life to Christ to God. And I was trying to move back to Orlando, which is where I’m from. So when he called, he was like, Hey man, you know, you’ll never believe who I’m working with. He was like, Justin Timberlake. And I was like, ‘Oh man, that’s amazing.  I’m so happy for you.’ And he was like, I was, I, my response to him was like, Hey, if you see his manager, Johnny Wright, let him know. I’m getting ready to move back to Orlando. And if I have to take out the trash at the compound, I’ll do that to get back in the game, you know, with, um, with that being said, he didn’t see Johnny Wright. But he, he asked me, he said, Hey man, but the guy, you know, Justin asked me to find the other guy to come on tour with him. And I was like, Oh my gosh, that’s amazing. Who are you going to call? And he was like, you, you big dummy.  

I’m calling you. This is the call.  

Nine days later. We were in LA on the microphone singing. Like I Love You get ready to do a promo run that we got there that Tuesday, Wednesday had a, uh, a single release party. It was Jay Leno. We did his show. It was, it was-you know how it works. It was pandemonium. It was crazy.  

Okay. So, so obviously that was a long time ago. A lot has changed since then. 

2002

Oh my goodness. So, okay. I know this is a tough question. I’m sorry to do this to you, but what would be, what would you say are the biggest changes in your life since then?  

Well, one of the biggest changes was on that particular tour. I was doing some really crazy stuff with the money I was making off of that tour. Like a lot of people that get on the tour, the first time I was buying all these shoes, I had a suitcase just full of shoes and another suitcase. At that time, they would let you have 70 pounds in a suitcase. And the other one had an outfit to match every single out, you know, a pair of shoes and I was getting money and I was just giving it away. I had nothing to show for it. That changed on after- on the future sex love show to them, you know? And I was like, okay, something’s gotta be different. That was one. When I met my wife, you know, when we was doing the I’m Loving It, promo tour over in Australia. So working with Justin, I met my wife, we had a baby, you know, it’s been a blessing. Yeah. So with all of that being said, um, that changed, um, by me working on that first tour and following Robin Wiley around, I would not be where I am today as a voice coach. During this pandemic. And I feel really bad for a lot of my friends that are in the industry and I constantly get other opportunities and pass them on to other people to help them out because I know it’s not easy right now, but had it not been for the stuff I did with Robin, it wouldn’t have led me down this path of being a voice coach where I’ve been able to work with a lot of big artists, you know, and young artists, new artists, and, um, un-signed artists, you know, COVID hits and we’re all stuck at home, but because of my business and because people are, you know, in this creative space where they’re writing and working on albums, I’m still able to coach. 

But you do more than just coach. I think this is unique. And I want to ask you about this, um, because you also develop artists, you’re working with a couple, couple artists on the come up. Um, and I’m curious about what artists development looks like to you. How does that, how does that look to you?  

Uh, for me as an artist, when I was doing the artist thing, I was 18, 19 writing songs. You know, I was given an opportunity by a guy that saw me outside practicing dance moves for a talent show. And I was just grabbed some guys that I thought could move this guy named Tyrone Wilson. He pulled over and saw us practicing. And he was like, Hey man, um, I see you guys are in a group, but we would like to, you know, um, you know, basically they were auditioning us right there on the side, asked us to sing something. And I was like feeling bad because I knew my group. We couldn’t do, they couldn’t harmonize. And they asked me to sing. And then at that point they asked me to be in their group, the two older guys, but they took me under their wings, developed me as a songwriter, um, a ranger and all of that stuff, um, gave me my first opportunity in a recording studio. And that changed my life. It really did. And so what does artist development look like for me is, is that a lot of times artists, you know, artists, they feel like once they get a manager, the manager or the label should do all this work, things have changed in so many ways. And I feel like for me, the artists is responsible for their career. If you’re waiting on somebody to do all that stuff for you, shame on you, shame on you. You’re only setting yourself up for one failure to let in your own self doubt, putting your career in the hands of somebody else to do what they want with it. Only for it to not work out. And you blame them for it. No, it’s your fault. You did it. You gave them the keys to your porche and they wrecked it. So I get artists that comes, that’ll come to me and talk to me about managing. And I’m like, I will not manage because I understand the challenges of management, you know, the frustrations of management and sometimes the artists and management, they have good intentions, but then a lot of times they’re bumping heads because they’re so different from each other, you know, and have different perspectives on how that particular artist needs to conduct their career. Now, I’m not saying they don’t need each other, but sometimes at the early stages, I feel like the artists can learn so much. If they, they, they get good counsel from someone. And for me, I just, I just say, okay, these are the things you need because I’m in these meetings a lot of times with the artists that they aspire to be like. You know, they welcoming in a lot of times, I’m in a room getting ready to warm them up. And then what do you think RAab? I’m like, man, don’t be asking me none of that. No, but seriously, what do you think? So I have those moments as well. And then I’m like, this is great information and great advice that I can pass down to a lot of these newer artists or artists that are signed, that are making, you know, really crazy decisions regarding their career. It’s just like, if you’re performing and you want to be like a Justin or a Rihanna or, or any of these artists that sing and dance, you need to start building a team around you that does those things. You know, we’re working with one right now, Dana, you know, and she’s amazing. And she’s a hard worker, but I would not have ever introduced her to y’all if I didn’t think she had what it took to do those things. And the funny thing is what sold me on her was that we were finishing up the, um, uh, Man of the Woods tour last year. And I got a phone call from a friend saying that dah, dah, dah, here’s this girl she’s talented. Me and her talk. I had to look at her in the eyes on, on the camera, like, ‘Hey, what’s up,’ you sure about this. You really want to do this. All right. I’m at this show right here. This weekend. If you can get here for me, it’ll show me how serious you are. Her and her mom was on the next plane. Next flight out met me there. We worked during the day, came to the show, saw y’all and it’s crazy. A year later working with you guys.  

Yep. I’ll say, okay. So Rob is talking about a young up-and-coming recording artist named Liv. I started with, I started working with live in January of 2020, I think. And let me tell you the moment that I knew other than she already has a good team around her, which, you know, the co-sign comes a little easier when you see the, the people that are surrounding her, but uh, come lockdown. She stuck that out the entire time, the entire lockdown, definitely a committed person. It’s inspiring to see that. And it’s so it sounds like you’re like me on the subject of movement coaching. I simply love sharing the information I’ve learned. Like, what good is it if I just keep it for myself.  

Right, right, right, right, right.  

Yeah. It’s part of why I started a podcast is part of why I love movement coaching so much is, you know, simply sharing. I do believe sharing is caring and I care about, I care about those people with the people that I work with. Um, okay. Question for you now on the, on the kind of relating what I do and what you do, one of the ways, but not the only way that I can tell a good dancer from a phenomenal dancer is their ability to multitask. Like in the moment they could be dancing Like I Love You and cracking jokes with JT on the side, like mid chorus, or they could be having a conversation during rehearsal while reviewing the steps it’s like happening almost in the background, um, versus somebody who’s new to dance or not quite to that level yet it would require 100% of their attention to do. Like, I Love You top to bottom without messing up. I think I could probably do, like, I love you bottom to top or without messing up while having a conversation. That’s partially because I’ve done it 4,000 times and because it’s my favorite, but, um, you know, that’s, that’s one of the things for me that tells the difference between good and great. Is there a tell for you and a vocalist? How do you, how do you tell good from great.  

You know what? Work ethic, Work ethic every time I’ve, I’ve been blessed to work with some of the most talented vocalist in the game. And the sad part about it is some of them that don’t have that work ethic, then they just go straight off of their talent. Like I’ve got this.  

So what happens then? What happens?  

They’re like, I’m good. And then they crash and hit it real hard. And then they’re quick to blame everybody else around them. And a lot of times, um, artists, they they’re like, Oh, why are you so you just blatantly honest with me and I’m like, I, how else should I be with you? You want me to sugar coat and lie to you? And I do it with a smile on my face. I’m not going to be angry. Now when you don’t practice it, do what you’re supposed to do. I get upset, but I have to do that. I have to tell you, this is you. These are your goals. These aren’t my goals. You know, I know what to do, but these are your goals if you want to be better. And so when I see an artist, it can be an artist that’s not a strong singer at all, but I’ve seen, I’ve had a kid from Australia. Parents found me, his name is Ky. They found me from Australia. The was on, America’s got talent and he’s a dancer tap dancer. Incredible. But he wants to sing. The mom calls me, Oh my gosh, we were talking to RAab Stevens about it. I was like, why are y’all fanning out? I’m just Raab. It’s all good. And she was like, Oh my gosh, we didn’t think you would answer it. And I was like, yes, this is my business. I haven’t gone to it. And it was like, Oh my gosh, my son he’s the, he was number five. And uh, Australia’s got talent, all this other stuff. And she was like, uh, well, my son wants to sing. We want to work with you. And I said, Oh, I said, okay. She said, well, he’s terrible. The mom is so honest too. And I was like, okay, you know what, let me talk to him.  I don’t want to talk to you not being disrespectful, but I need to talk to him and see how, if he’s focused to be able to do this kind of thing, because I’m going to not, I’m not going to treat him any different. I’m going to push them. Just like I would, if I was in front of a superstar, I’m like, because I want him to be that. Or then some, you know, and the kid was so focused and he did everything I asked him, if you hear this kid sing, now you’d be like, Oh, he always had that. No he didn’t. 

Um, I really dig that approach to a decision about taking someone on, not being about where they are, but about where they want to be and their determination to get there. Um, I’ve, I’ve, I’ve worked with actually, some of my favorite people to work with are people that have zero dance experience and they are a blank canvas and they’re here and they’re hungry. They don’t have any bad habits I’m telling you. It is such a sweet spot. Um, actually, maybe we stick on that topic for a second. If somebody with no experience came to me and asked, can I teach them or will you teach me to dance in one week? I would probably laugh at them. But then I would like, there are drills and techniques and there is, there are some building blocks. There are tools that I would give them a place to start that in one week could probably do a lot of good. Um, is there something similar in your realm? Like, is there like a crash course to using your voice?  

Do you know what, I think it’s so funny when, um, when record labels or management, they’ll come to me and they’ll say, yo, we heard about you. We want to do this and get our artists this way. Blah, blah, blah. No, they’re like, yeah. I’m like, when’s the show? Uh it’s tomorrow. Oh, I’ve had that. I’ve had the shows next week. How, how many sessions do you think it’s going to take? The tour is in a week and a half from now. Why are y’all waiting? Why are y’all waiting now? What are y’all doing? Yeah. And then it’s like, I’m like, yeah, for what we do for a living, this is a ongoing regimen. It’s almost like saying, and I’ll give them, uh, you know, my LeBron James thing, I was like, okay, so you think LeBron’s high school coach was all he needed in order to sustain him in it, to win this many championships, let alone go to nine NBA finals, you know? And I’m like, no, his coach, he set him up for excellence in high school, but somebody else had to pick up the ball when he got into the NBA. And that’s what it is. But I’m just saying, so it’s the work ethic, you know, preparation, all of that stuff. So I’ve had artists that are really talented and they, they do, they’re focused and they’re driven, you know, you know, like the artist I just told you, I just finished working with, I mean, she ain’t touring right now, but me and her in here three days a week and she’s killing it, you know, along with other artists, they’re recording, they’re putting out new material, you know? So that stuff inspires me. It really does. It gets me going as well.  

Um, the, the, the training conversation reminds me of a quote. It’s been attributed to several different people, um, like an anonymous Navy seal, and then like Aristotle or someone, I don’t know where this actually comes from. But the sentiment is that you will not rise to the occasion, you will fall to your level of training. And when you train all the time, you don’t need to worry about falling you’re there. Right. And I think that that’s, you know, one of the other things I love about being a coach, especially with somebody who’s willing to go in multiple days a week, because that’s when you really start seeing benefits. Not, not one week for two days a week, not, not one month, every like once a week, but I mean, we’re talking long game and it’s so, so rewarding to see those, to see that improvement.  

It is. Yeah. So when I see that it inspires me because I was that kid that when I stayed with my mom, my sister, or the Bixler’s, who is this family that took me in, when I left home at an early age. I was constantly practicing. Always some allowed me to do my thing. Some was like, RAab, could you just please just give us a minute. Could you please just take the night off? And at that point, I always tell my kids, if your parents aren’t complaining about you practicing all the time, you’re not practicing enough.  

Oh, I love that metric.  

They should be like, please shut up, give us a break. I mean, we love you. We love you. You’re super talented. I love you so bad, but can you just give mommy or daddy a little break for now? Can you go in the basement basement and close all the doors behind you, but that’s when you know, they’re they want it. Yeah. And I think that the depressing side of things is when I work with artists, that I have to constantly push and try and motivate and inspire them. And they really don’t want to do that. They’d rather just be in a studio and write and call that a day.  

Oh, I’m glad that you mentioned that because I said a second ago that if somebody asked me if I could teach them how to dance in a week, I would laugh. I would, I would laugh first. But the truth is, if you don’t want to, then the answer is no, no matter what, this is really something you have to have a desire to do. Um, and then also the desire, not, not the desire necessarily, but, um, uh, a pleasure or a joy for music. I know a lot of people that tell me, I have no rhythm. I have no rhythm. I, I can’t even find the downbeat. And I’m like, but do you like music? And if the answer is yes, then I’ll tell them. And now it will be telling the truth that yes, I can teach you how to dance. You want it, if you, if you want it and you enjoy listening to music, absolutely. I love it.  Um, okay. I want to segue a little bit. Um, I want to talk about before we get into some myths, some common misconceptions about the voice. Uh, I want to talk about like overall health, because I’ve been finding, especially lately it’s odd. And some people might be surprised by this, but I know a lot of dancers with very unhealthy lifestyle. Dancers in general, we like to party. We like late nights. Um, drugs and alcohol are not uncommon in the dance space.

And the singing world 

Okay. Okay. So we share that. Um, and I, I wonder, like, what would you say is the role of fitness and a healthy lifestyle for a vocalist?  

Well, it’s funny. I always have this thing saying when I’m around, especially my male, um, clients, like what’s happening, good doctor, how you doing? And they all start laughing and uh, every now and then they’ll ask me why you always call me the doctor. I’m like, cause you got the medicine for other people. They look confused. I’m like, yeah, your lyrics, your song, it’s ministry. You don’t have to be in the church to minister to somebody. You know what I’m saying? So if you can’t get up there and do your job, you’re not going to be a minister. You’re not going to be able to save somebody’s life. Because I got trust me every night when I’m working in the, in the arena and the artist is on stage and I’m walking around the arena, taking notes on my iPad. I always find those, those, those, those, those people that are being drugged to the concert with their friends and don’t want to be there.  And when you sit down and talk with them, they’re like, yo, I’m glad I came. I was thinking about committing suicide tonight. Really it’s very powerful and it was somebody that was, uh, it could have been a dancer. I ran into it to dance dancers, people that, you know, either got injured and can’t do it perform anymore. But by them watching dancers on stage, move the way they do it just took them back and brought joy back in. You know what I’m saying? So I see those things. So when I say the ministry of what singing does for people, you know, I try and remind artists that, that. 

Okay, so that’s so, so what we do, what we, and now when I say we, I mean performers. What we do. I mean, yes, I’ve heard, you know, we’ve all heard dance saves lives or music saved my life. And I think that that, yes, in some cases, that is absolutely true. Um, but what would you suggest for, for us entertainers? How do we save our own life?  

So a lot of times when I come out and I know certain artists like to drink or like to do drugs, like the party and I come in and I, the same thing, you know, good doctor or I’ll say, Hey mama, how you doing? What’s happening, mama, why you keep calling me mama? Ain’t got no kids. I’m like, yes, you do. You have 135 people on staff. Don’t you, you’re their mother. You’re responsible for all of their households, not how they do, not how they conduct their households. But if you get sick and you go down, are you going to pay them their full salaries when they’re down? And a lot of people don’t want to hear that. Especially the people that are close to that circle, you can’t talk to them that way. I’m like, no, you shouldn’t party with them that way you shouldn’t do it because you’re contributing to the whole problem.  You know what I’m saying? I’m not saying the person can’t celebrate and have fun, but at what cost, what is it going to cost you? Because logistically speaking and having to reschedule a show and come back months later, if they do it, that’s month, that’s the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Maybe even millions. It’s a lot of money to deal with that. When you could save that, if you’re going to do a little bit of a party, if you like to drink, just understand what drinking is going to do for you. You know, drinking is alcohol. It’s going to dry you out. Well, does it reach the vocal folds? All right. You sit there and you inhale alcohol through your mouth all day long. Those vapors get on the vocal folds and it’s going to dry it out. Oh my gosh. I’m so dry. You in Florida. It’s humid down here. What you’ve been doing?  

Okay. This is, this is a perfect segue. Then let’s talk about these misconceptions because a few years ago, I, I lost my voice for several days in a row. I didn’t have a voice for seven days. This came after a stint of, uh, uh, I think it was two or three days and I taught 16 classes. So throwing my voice over loud music while moving, being exerted. And I, I suppose I never learned exactly how to do that properly. Um, so I, I learned that I have some damage, some vocal, I have a vocal nodules. Uh, I got a voice pathologist. I got a vocal coach and I started working on, well, number one, just awareness. Like not speaking my sentences all the way out in the end until I have no breath. And now I’m straightening and I’m still talking. I’ve started keeping an eye on that. Um, I drink warm water all the time. I’ve definitely tampered my alcohol intake. Um, okay. So here is my list of myths that I would like to be busted, or I guess some of them are just kind of questions. Um, is coffee bad for your voice?  

Coffee is a natural diuretic. It will dry you out. It’ll give you a boost of energy, but for every cup of coffee, you have to have three bottles of water to dilute it. There you go.  

Love it. Um, okay. Is Tea I mean, some teas are natural diuretics as well, I guess, but is there a kind of tea that is better or worse for your voice?  

Uh, I liked throat coat tea. I like, um, throat comfort tea. I like putting menuca honey, not the one from whole foods, but menuca 5-50. They have a 5-60 plus I like using that from New Zealand. Take scoop of that and put that into the tub, the tea, if the singer is still dry while singing that put a little, a few drops of licorice root oil in there, and drink that  

You crushed one of my other ones. So honey does help or certain types of honey.  

So I like certain types of honey. If you dealing with like severe allergies and certain regions during spring and fall, you know what I’m saying? So if you’re dealing with that, I will use localized honey because a lot of times that’s the remedy for whatever is setting off your allergies in that area. 

The bees are the secret. Yep.  As always, uh, okay. This one. Oh, my fingers are crossed about the answer to this question. I think I already know is dairy bad for your voice?

All right. So dairy, here’s the deal with dairy? I used to always think, man, every time I drink dairy, it messes up my voice, especially because I’m lactose intolerant. So that’s a bigger effect on, you know, for those that deal with that. But dairy, believe it or not, ladies and gentlemen, dairy the particles are too big to get to the vocal folds. They never touch the vocal folds if they do, you’re choking on it,  

Which is bad for your voice, by the way, don’t be choking. Okay. This is excellent news  

Now. So you’ll have, you’ll have phlegm in the back of your throat as a result of it. And one way to get rid of that is, uh, get some salt water, warm water, and gargle with that. And then it’s out.  

Thank you, doctor. Okay. A few others, um, cold water superior to warm water. I think this one’s obvious, but  

Alright so cold water. I love cold water. I do. When I’m working out, do not give me room temperature, water. Uh, yeah, but um, anytime you’re performing, room temperature is always best because it takes your body more work to heat the water up to your body’s temperature. So you don’t want to have to deal with that. You got it.  

Hm. Okay. Interesting. I love it. I’ve since working with a voice pathologists, I started drinking warm water and I love it. I don’t ever want to stop. I love it. It’s my favorite thing. Um, oddly, okay, so we talked a little bit about honey question about cough drops. Do they work? I know you have a favorite.  

Okay. So, um, when you’re dealing with cough drops, you gotta be really careful. I mean, you know, let me, let me go down my little list. So let’s say for instance, like if singers are dealing with congestion or, you know, um, huge congestion in the nose, of course you want to consult with your doctor, but what I’ve always found that work is Mucinex sometimes Tylenol Severe Sinus. You know, it has a little bit of Mucinex then it has a four hour release in it. You take two of those and, um, I have this stuff, um, you, if anybody knows anything about doTERRA products. Yeah. So doTERRA has this oil, this little blend, and it’s a respiratory blend, which is really cool. And, um, it has Melaleuca in it. So like when you use you eustachian tubes by your ears, get impacted with mucus, from blowing your nose too hard. I always have singers put that around their ears. Uh, my mom, as a kid used to put what do you call it.. Vicks! Oh my gosh. Put it all on my nose, on my chin, on my neck and my chest,  

Uh, that lights you on icy fire. 

I know, right? Yeah. I have oil all over my face, but, um, that’s all, she, she, she knew at the time, but this has peppermint oil. Eucalyptus and all that other good stuff. You put it on your ears. And then, um, there’s a particular gum that, um, you know, I was put on to, by another friend of mine, um, from the UK, they sell it in the UK and all over Europe, but not here in America, coincidentally, and it’s called airwaves. And you can order it through Amazon. It takes about a week to two weeks to get to you, but you’ll chew on two pieces of that and that’ll open up your sinuses like that, like really causing the drain. Yeah. But don’t do the sniffles, just let it fall forward and then slightly blow 

Okay. Thank you, Rob. Those are all my, my myths. Did I, did I miss anything? Oh, I do know that. I do know that whispering is bad for your voice.  

Whispering is bad for your voice. It dries out the vocal folds and causes voice to fatigue really quickly.  

That is a good one, especially when you’re losing your voice. Don’t whisper 

Yeah. And for singers and dancers that like to eat after show food, laying down after eating cause you’re tired, you did a lot of work and you’d to get on their lap and laugh and laugh and laughing. If you fall asleep under three hours and you find yourself with heartburn or anything like that, try not to do that. Try and wait at least three hours or limit the amount of after show food. You eat, especially pizza. And there’s some tourists that are just give this the people, you know, singers the crew, Hey, just eat this pizza and call it a day and you’re hungry and you’ll eat it. But the tomato sauce and the pizza will trigger the reflux as well. So just be careful.  

I think that’s important. You mentioned that the amount of hours between eating and resting, but also the quantity over eating anything. Even if you’re eating good food, natural foods, not, not tomato, crazy sauce or anything like that, any time when you’re overdoing it, that reflux will kick up. For sure.  

It will definitely get you.  

Oh my gosh. You didn’t know you were getting into it like a health health lesson today. Um, okay. Rob, I know you keep a tight calendar, super tight schedule. So I just want to finish off by asking if you have any words of wisdom or thoughts, thoughts for aspiring vocalists out there. Um, eh, any last remarks,  

Listen, if you’re going to be in this music industry as a dancer or a singer, don’t wait for somebody to invest in you to do it, figure out a way to invest in your own self. And also don’t just get into industry because you want to be the star. You know, you want to get into industry, I’m going to be this star. Uh, you set yourself up, you know, and I’m not telling you this, a perfect opportunity to have a plan B. Go in there because you are, you love the industry. You want to be a part of that. If you’re going to be on broadway, you go all out and study all the great don’t just study your favorite study. The ones that have been, you know, in West Side Story for all these years and why they’ve had continual success, you know, don’t just study w just wicked that comes through your town, find out the history of all of them.  You know, you know, Disney is good about doing stuff like that, but you know, you just gotta be a student of the craft of singing. And one way to do that is to invest in your own self. If you want to work with an artist or work with a coach like Dana or myself, you know? Yeah. The rates may be a little higher in your eyes, in my eyes. I try and keep my rates at a certain way, you know, to where everybody can afford it. But in that particular instance, it’s worth the investment. You’re not only going to get good coaching, but you’re going to get the same type of coaching that you see these other artists that are out there, the same type of attention, the same type of love, you know, that’s going to be poored into you. Why not spoil yourself with that? You know, that’s important, you know, so that’s, that’s what I got. Keep God first. Definitely. Yeah.  

Thank you so much. That was brilliant and beautiful. And I’m inspired to go do some more cup bubbles. It’s honestly, it’s a part of my daily routine. I love the way my voice feels afterwards. It’s amazing. Um, okay. Thank you so much. I will absolutely be linking to you and all of your amazing work in the show notes of this episode. So go find RAab, RAab, thank you so much again for being here. Um, I have, I get to talk to you again soon.  

Thank you. Good to see you, Dana. All right.  

OKay. That is RAab. And that is one of the most talented and kind people that I, that I think I know I’m so happy to have introduced you to RAab and so hopeful that you will be becoming introduced to your new and improved voice. I really think that this man has so much to teach and that we all have so much to gain from taking care of ourselves in our voice. So I hope you’re as inspired as I am to take care of yourself. Um, your audience depends on it and I will be linking to RAab’s business in the show notes of this episode. Should you be so inspired that you decided to, uh, find him and seek him out for some coaching. Oh, and if you are at all interested in coaching with me on the movement front or otherwise, I have some very special news come 2021, which is not that far away. You will be able to do exactly that in a number of different ways. So stay tuned for more updates on the Words that Move Me Membership front. And of course keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon, everybody.  

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

Ep. #49 Pay Attention with Martha Nichols

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

Transcript:

Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah. Somewhere in 2006, 2007.  

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

2006 

And how’d that go? 

Um, it went. 

Up? Down? Spirals? 

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

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

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

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

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

It’s out of your control. 

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

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

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

Oh we can, we can go into that.  

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

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

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

Oh, legit! 

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

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

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

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

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

No stimulation, just 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And who was that? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Awesome. 

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

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

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

The Wider Sun. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When you say voices, 

Can we elaborate on that? 

I love this.  

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

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

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

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

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

Like why and what else? 

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

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

Thank you. 

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

Love you Forrest Gump! Thank you.  

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

It was, 

But why?

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

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

Thanks for having me. I love you so much. 

You’re welcome. I love you. Bye.  

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

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

Ep. #48 Gratitude and Indulgence

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

Quick Links:

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

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

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

Tony Testa: http://www.tonytestaofficial.com/about

Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ep. #47 Lady Boss: Diana Matos

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

Show Notes:

Quick Links:

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

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

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

Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So down. So now coming soon, coming soon. 

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

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

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

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

Its so detailed. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Its so subjective, yes.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can’t beat you. 

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

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

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

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

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

It is what it is. 

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

Good night. Dana you’re my life coach. 

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

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

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

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

Ep. #46 LIVE Q&A Vol. 1

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

Quick Links:

Money Michelle” for Bookkeeping: delegatedbookkeeping.com

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

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

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


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

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

Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And maybe in a big way 

Max: And maybe in a big way.  

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

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

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

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

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

Okay. Um, I think next step is Alyssa.  

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

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

Um, okay. Gaby, you are up next.  

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

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

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

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

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

Emily Jo: Definitely. Yeah. 

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

Okay, Jess Franco, you are up next. 

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

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

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

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

Okay. Sarah, you are up next.  

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

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

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

Dana: I know who you’re going to say.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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