Ep. #38 WTMM x CLI with Joshua Smith

Ep. #38 WTMM x CLI with Joshua Smith

 
 
00:00 / 00:40:05
 
1X
 
Joshua Smith has an interesting view of the industry, validation, and fame. This episode diggs into all that and more.  We go deep on dance as an art/ sport, the Black Lives Matter movement, Daily Routines, personal style, and GRATITUDE.  I can’t wait for you to hear this master-peace of an episode. Enjoy!

Show Notes

Quick Links:

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

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

Transcript:

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

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

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

Dana: Hi everybody. I’m Dana.

Josh: I’m Josh. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dana: Thank you so much, man. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dana: And so talented. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Josh: Happy belated birthday! 

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dana: Great example, great example.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dana: Let’s hear it. Let’s see it.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

Josh: Upside down,  

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

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

Dana: The conversations is training and experience  

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

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

Josh: Well, it’s the kinjaz 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ep. #35 Special Guests and Special Stories (Audition August Episode 4)

Ep. #35 Special Guests and Special Stories (Audition August Episode 4)

 
 
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To round out #AuditionAugust I sat down and answered some listeners burning questions about auditions. I also asked some of my favorite movers and shakers to talk about their favorite audition experiences!  Are you ready to be auditioning? Are you ready to be WORKING? After listening to this episode… I hope so!

Show Notes

Quick Links:

Audition August Registration: https://www.thedanawilson.com/workshops 

Hannah Douglass: https://www.instagram.com/hannahdlaine

Kim: https://www.instagram.com/kimgingras/

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

Dexter: https://www.instagram.com/dextercarr/

Transcript:

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

Dana: Hello. Hello everybody. And welcome back to words that move me. I am Dana and Oh, how about also welcome if you’ve never been here. Welcome. Welcome. I am so jazzed to have you listening today. Um, I hope this podcast finds you well. I hope it finds you happy and healthy and if happy, fails, I hope it finds you human and healthy and you know what? I’m here for all life. Actually, if you’re not even feeling human today, if you are feeling more like plant matter or a geode, I will accept all of it. Welcome. Welcome as you are. I am as always thrilled about this episode, because it is a little bit different from your average. Um, in general, I like to think that they are all different than your average podcast, but this words that move me up episode is truly, truly different. Um, simply in format. Today is our fourth and final installation of Audition August half of this episode is going to be dedicated to questions and answers. Those questions were submitted by my personal clients. And from you listeners via Instagram questions about auditions specifically, the other half of the episode is going to be super special, firsthand audition stories from a handful of super special and very talented guests, that also happened to be friends. Ava Bernstein Mitchell, AKA Ava Flav, Kim Gingras, Hannah Douglas and Dexter Carr. I mean, wow, this is quite an episode and I want to get into it, but you know how we do here.  We begin with wins. 

Oh guys, I’m celebrating a special win. I am celebrating that words that move me. Podcasts has found itself in Apple’s top 100 performing arts podcasts yet again this week, actually last week. But this week, by the time you’re hearing this, I guess at spot number 83, now I am not privy to the witchcraft and wizardry that determines the ranking of podcasts on Apple. But I am certain that I could not, would not have achieved that very coveted 83rd slot without all of you. So thank you so much. I’m so glad that you’re here. I’m glad to have you, and to those of you that have been giving feedback via social media and on the website. I’m so grateful for that always and now, regardless of what Apple thinks of my podcasts, I’m getting some awesome feedback and some critical feedback too. I appreciate all of it. Thank you so much. All right. If you are digging the podcast, I should say some good next steps for you might be to share it with a friend, leave a review or a rating, and of course, download it and make sure that you’re able to have it with you whenever you find yourself in podcast, ready time, be it with or without your wifi. Okay. Now the important part, what is your win this week? What’s going well in your world.  

Congratulations. Happy, win to you. Please keep winning. 

All right. Let’s dig in to these Q’s and A’s, I got some really, really good questions from you guys about auditions, so thoughtful, um, so thought provoking and I’m actually really, really excited to begin. Let us begin. Oh, by the way, I should say that these questions were submitted via Google forms. So I’m not actually sure who asked them there were submitted anonymously and I will answer them anonymously right from my mouth. Here’s where I’d like to begin, listener asks 

“What would you say to someone who was training in dance took a few years off to focus on an alternative career, but has started retraining during quarantine and would love nothing more than to dive back into the audition slash dance world.”

Alright to you dancer in her early thirties, I would say go for it. I would also say listen to last week’s episode where I talk to Meisha Goetz and Tim O’Brien from Clear Talent Group. They talk a lot about the lay of the land that we’re looking at now heading into, um, the post COVID work era and our industry is slowly starting to turn on kind of like a dimmer switch, less like a regular on off switch work is extremely slow right now, which means it is extremely competitive. It might be a tough time to catch your footing, but it will be a fruitful time eventually. Um, and from my personal point of view, most of the audition breakdowns that I’ve been getting, especially lately are looking for real people. The majority of the work that’s happening right now is not, you know, in person award shows, it’s not tours. Some of it is music videos, but most of this type of dancing is, um, TV, episodic, film, and commercial. Those are looking for usually real people, not backup dancer types. So for you, I would really encourage, um, to get in there, get your materials in order, headshots, photos and really good video links. Um, if you have a relationship with an agent already awesome, if not keep your eye out on the casting networks to be self submitting. This is the time for video submissions. It is a great day to be self submitting today and every day. 

All right, next up, “I have heard a lot of stories about people sneaking into auditions, just out of curiosity, not like I would ever try it or anything.” 

This person’s cheeky. “How are some people just able to sneak into private auditions and what would happen if they got all the way to the end, asking for a friend angel emoji.” I love this question. I love it so much. And I am going to leave it to my dear friend, Ava Bernstein Mitchell, to answer this question with her special story coming at ya in just a few moving right along. Ooh, we have a poll “technique versus style.  Which one is more important to you at an audition? Of course it depends on the project, but for you personally, meaning me Dana director, choreographer, or person behind the table, which one do I side with? Or which one do you side with?” This is a great question. In fact, I Dana the person on the other side of the microphone am going to be bringing you an episode entirely dedicated to this conversation technique versus style in a knockdown drag out battle who would win? Well, dear writer, dear listener. I think you’re already onto the answer to this question, which is it’s different for every project. I know certain choreographers prioritize and champion style. I know certain others that prioritize and champion cleanliness, um, this, this ability to replicate, duplicate and do exactly as I say and exactly as I do. I personally, Dana am a fan of personal you and your style. I really love to see individuality. It’s something I champion with my work and it’s something I really look for in my team. So that is my answer. Bring on your style. All right. 

Ooh, here’s another good one. “How important are looks AKA hair, makeup, clothes, et cetera. When you are at an audition?” I will answer again for myself, not nearly as important as your, your talent is numero UNO, but oftentimes especially because there are many, many humans and usually not a lot of time, your hair, your makeup or your clothing can become a quick and easy identifier a way for us to remember you. So although your talent is the most important thing you can bring to an audition, your hair, your makeup and your wardrobe are really, really easy way to become memorable. Hair, makeup wardrobe. Yes, important, but only fractionally compared to how important your talent is.  

Okay.  Ah, this is great. “If an audition asks for all black attire, what would you wear to stand out?” Oh dear writer slash listener. Please do go listen to episode 32, where I talk at length about exactly this. Okay. Next step. Next step. “How much research should you do on a project before an audition?” Oh my gosh. This is the fun part for me. I love research. I love digging. I love learning. I love trial and error. This is just a process that I so get into my recommendation is as much as possible before you audition for a project, you should. Absolutely. If, if nothing else have researched the choreographer, if there is one attached or the project itself, um, this is something that I could spend hours doing. But if you are limited, I’d say you get the tip of the iceberg in 15 to 20 minutes, but this is like bare, bare minimum. The more you can dig in, the more prepared you will be. Even if nothing else, you might simply enter the room differently, feeling prepared, thinking that you had done your homework. There is really nothing like the feeling of walking into the room, knowing that you didn’t do your homework. I am all for anything you can do to avoid that feeling. Okay moving on. “Are agencies, signing new talent via online submissions?” Yes, yes, absolutely. Yes. Off the top of my head. I know that at least Go2Talent agency is signing new talent. Okay. Next up. Ooh, this one’s a doozy. It’s a, it’s a bundle.  

Okay. Listener asks “In response to the Instagram posts going around saying that Instagram is your new real slash resume. Has Instagram really become the dancers new reel?” Okay. I’m going to give you guys a little bit of context. I pulled up the, um, posts that has been circulating around Instagram. I’m going to read it to you now. It says this
“To all of my dancers. Please, please show your versatility on your IgE page because when you’re sleeping, having your coffee… I am quietly trying to submit you for a gig. Yes. I’m sharing your profile privately. And when I have to literally search your page and scroll all the way down to show the client, some sort of versatility, it makes it hard to push for you. Please spread the selfies in between and add some content that will get you booked.” All right. So that’s the post that this writer is referring to. Now let’s listen to that question. One more time. Has Instagram become the new dancers reel? So that I would say yes and no. I don’t think anything will ever replace a good, reel, reels show many, many different projects, preferably your best work with one click with one view, no time scrolling in between, but in some ways Instagram can do one better because where a reel  stops, right, Where it ends. Instagram does keep going. You can have an endless feed. I mean, maybe not actually endless, but close to it. You decide the same listener asks. Do you need to have separate IG accounts for personal versus professional to that? I would say no, probably not. I would actually say you don’t even need an Instagram account. I can say that because I know plenty of dancers that are plenty working that don’t have an IG account. Is it helpful to have one? Yes. Is it more common to have one probably. But do you need? No. I would definitely recommend anybody with questions about the use of social media. Go back and listen to episode 10. It’s called your social media storefront and a really, really dig in to my relationship and several different types of relationships you can have with social media.  

Okay. Here’s another good one. “If you’re new and don’t have high quality content, is that still good enough to post or should you wait until you have the good content?” If social media is the new audition, then it doesn’t serve you much good to wait until you have good content so that you can get booked so that you can have good content. It’s this which came first, the chicken or the egg conversation. To this listener I would say it is not out of your reach to create good looking content. If you have a phone in your pocket and something to prop it up against, you have the sunlight, you have your body, you have your talent, get your talent out there. Just hit record and share. B minus work is still above average. It’s a great place to start.  

Alright. One more question on this subject in this post “They say to show versatility on your page. What does that mean?” I really love this question and I’m going to answer it like this. If you’re a person that wants to be doing work, like what you see on TV, then post yourself dancing styles, similar to what you see on TV, put out into the world, the work that you want to be doing to that I would also like to add. It’s not always about being versatile. Sometimes it kills to be a specialist. If that’s you, if you specialize at one thing, show me that one thing. Show me you are the greatest at that one thing, if you’re a person that desires doing a lot of different types of work, then yeah. Show that you’re able to do different types of work. And that doesn’t just mean dance. Go take a look at the special skills section on your resume. If you don’t have a special skills section on your resume start considering what sets you aside, bring that, bring those special skills, bring those talents, bring those interests to your social media as well, because it isn’t just about how well you dance. It is about who you are. People want to work with people who do good work and people really, really want to work with good people. All right. I hope those Qs and As Aid, some of your Qs, and I hope that you are ready with a pen and paper because you have a lot to learn from these special stories coming up. On your mark, get set, grow. Oh yeah. I said,  grow.

Kim Gingras: Bonjur! My name is Kim Gingras And I like to share this one audition. I will never forget. So we’re in 2011 and it had only been a few months since my move to Los Angeles. When a friend told me about this upcoming audition for Nicole Scherzinger from the pussycat dolls, which was very exciting because I knew their music well, I loved her style. I love the whole empowerment female in heels, a type of dancing. But I was a little worried because I never received a memo from my agency. So since communication is key, I reached out to my agent to clarify what the audition was about, why I hadn’t gotten the memo, if I could possibly go. And they nicely explained that it didn’t fit the specs that they were looking for. So an audition always comes with an audition breakdown and I didn’t fit the characteristics. Fair. That’s totally fair, but I wasn’t ready to walk away from that opportunity. I just knew it. I felt that in my gut, this was something I needed to show up to. So I found out who the choreographer was for the job, which was the amazing Jaquel Knight. And I had a connection with him through years back in 2008, when we were both in the cast of the Monsters of Hip Hop showcase. And I decided to reach out to him and he is so sweet and so kind and openly welcomed me to the audition. He’s like, yeah, just show up at this time. No problem. I got you. And he sure did. So I showed up over there and I mean, it was such an amazing experience. This audition lasted hours. It was dancing after dancing and so much sweating and people were getting cut. We had to stay longer. And Nicole showed up at some point. Then we all had to dance by ourselves, the entire song for her to watch. I mean, it just went on and on. I feel like we ended around like midnight or something. It was just so exciting. And I booked the job and not only did I book this right there, music video, but it turned into my first appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres show, American Idol. So you think you can dance, my first European tour and then nine more years of friendship and opportunities when Nick and the team, like what, I mean, she’s just the gift that keeps on giving. We’ve gone to Vietnam, Malaysia, Turkey, Thailand, Indonesia, together. And I’ve gotten, you know, amazing lifetime friendships through her and the team. So the moral of the story here is you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Of course I had to quote Wayne Gretzky cause I’m Canadian. But in all seriousness, I know we’ve all felt this fear take over us in specific situations where in reality, we had that little voice inside telling us this is for you. Go for it. So let’s be a little more daring. Let’s listen to that little voice inside. Let’s take chances. We owe it to ourselves.  

Dexter Carr: Hey, what’s going on? Y’all my name is Dexter Carr. I am a choreographer dancer in Los Angeles, California, and this is my crazy audition story. So when I had just moved to Los Angeles, I was getting a lot of open calls from my agency. I was getting calls that had like literally 300 people in a room, all trying to audition for like three spots. So I was going because you know, that’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s what you’re supposed to do. You pound the pavement, you hustle, you move, you move, you move. So I went, one audition in particular was for an artist that was very, uh, eclectic and liked a lot of drama and like, you know, things and extra and lace and all the things, all the, all the, all the things. And uh, if you know anything about me that I have that side, but it’s not, it’s not something that I’m really, you know, like that’s not my go to, and especially not at that age, you know, moving here like six, seven years ago.  

So I’m walking into this thing, thinking that, like I got to really come up with something. I got to pull something. I got to really like try to, you know, and that’s the energy in the room. Cause I already knew what the energy and the room was about to give. Right? So I come in there with like a little rip tank tops of ripped jeans and some boots and a bandana tied around my head. I’m like, yeah, this is it. This is edgy. This is the edgiest you’re going to get. I walked up to the parking lot, which is where all of the dancers were waiting to go inside. And the first thing I saw, we, God, I’m laughing. Cause I’m, haven’t told the story in so long. The first thing I saw was somebody with, um, wings, wings on like the size of Victoria’s secret angel wings.  Like, you know what I mean? Huge wings. And then somebody else had their face painted one color half and then there are other, and like people got like weaves for this that were like down to the floor. And I was like, Oh wait, wait, wait, I missed the memo. I thought I was really doing it. I thought I was really going to be able to, you know, you know, rub elbows with these people. But no, no, no. They have surpassed me and we haven’t even gotten in the room yet. We haven’t even learned one step yet cut to, we all get in the room and you know, the choreographers is letting us know what the job is, how many spots there are and what he’s looking for. And basically what he said is that he wants a star. He wants somebody that comes in here and grabs the attention. Now, mind you, like I said, I’m in all black and some boots. So I don’t, I don’t have a leg up. I don’t have a leg up on the competition with this. When it was time for my group to audition, I was of course, in a group with the person, with the wings. And when I tell y’all they finished the choreography, which you know, choreography happened, boom, I’m set. I’m good. I’m clean. I’m probably not doing a lot. I’m probably not making a lot of choices. It’s probably not doing anything. You know, that’s like, wow, bam. But I’m getting through the choreography right. Time to freestyle. The person with the wings takes the wings, walks to the center of the room as if it is a runway flaps the wings in front pushes them back and struts all the way down to the table and literally stares at the people at the table. Now these wings are so large that it does hit you or move you or give you a gust of wind that if you’re not expected, may topple you over. Which is what happened to me. I literally like was not expecting these wings to come at me. And I looked up and I saw them and I fell over needless to say, no one got kept other than him. So moral of the story is if they say edgy, go, go for the gold go. Like no, no fear go for it. Y’all yeah. Thanks for listening to my crazy audition story.  

Hannah Douglass: My name is Hannah Douglas and this is my audition story. So I have plenty of audition stories, but the most memorable for me is the very first audition. I was fresh off of Edge scholarship. I was 18 years old and it was for the Celine Dion world tour, which is so major. It was Nick and RJ. It was everybody who was, anybody was there at the time. And I was nice and green. And I remember loving the choreo thinking. I was killing the choreo in my little scholie corner with my friends and, you know, going over it over and over and over, and then going in a group with a bunch of OGs and then just like fully losing it and completely blanking. I basically stood there. It was a full tragedy and I just freaked out and it was, it was terrible. So I got chopped ASAP, obviously. Left and just couldn’t believe it.  And then I remember the next day going into Edge and seeing Bill and bill was so excited, Bill Prudich, he’s the director of edge, the edge scholarship program. And he was like, you know, guru dance guru and cared so much about our journey. So I was, you know, kind of embarrassed to see him. Cause I knew I was terrible, but he was like, how was your first audition? And I just broke down crying. I lost it. I just lost it. And he was like, okay, so you should probably move home because these are your options. You either cry and break down right now because you got told no once or you get it together and you move forward. And I will never forget that moment in my life because the idea of moving home was just not an option for me. I mean, I love my home, but I just, I was so determined to just do better.  And Bill saying that reacting that way was, you know, the option was to move home. Just really rocked me to my core. And I had an audition four days later, I think for Seal, for Dancing with the Stars. And I went in hearing Bill’s voice in my head saying, you know, move home or just figure it out basically. And I booked it and it was simply because of that mindset shift, which I’ve carried with me literally the last 14 years of my career. You know, you either choose to be rocked by who you’re surrounded by and you know, the, the caliber of the job in your mind, or you just do what you love to do to the best of your ability. You’re not going to be right for everything, but you can shift your mindset to the point that you offer the best that you have in that moment.  And because of Bill’s wording to me that day, I will never forget that feeling of being hold. Like basically you just figure it out, you know, or you, or you leave because that’s the alternative to just break down every time you turn you’ll you’re told no, or just do your best. So, you know, that week of auditions really shaped the rest of my life because I had one of the worst auditions I’ve ever had in my life. And then just four days later, the best auditions I’ve ever had in my life. And it was just because of a mindset shift. So that is what I try to carry with me forever. Still, you know, 14 years later is how mental this game is and that’s what gets you through. And so, yeah, I’m forever grateful to Bill and forever apologetic to Nick and RJ for that tragic audition. Um, but also grateful for the lessons I learned. So that’s my story.  

Ava Bernstein Mitchell: What’s up? This is Ava Bernstein Mitchell, and this is my most memorable audition story. I want to take you back to 2006 when I auditioned for Justin Timberlake. So let me preface the story with, at this time in my life, dancing for Justin Timberlake was my dream job. It was on the top of my wishlist. It was, it was it for me. And also I had met Marty at a hip hop intensive workshop. I would say, I don’t exactly know how much before, but it could have been a year. It could have been a few months, but I had met Marty and he said this to me and I’ll never forget after class. He was like, ‘yo, you’re dope. We’re going to work together someday.’ And I’ll never forget it. So I carry that into 2006, when it was all the buzz around town that Justin Timberlake was coming back. He had been gone for four years. So everybody knew this audition was coming up. But the thing about this audition was it was a picture submit only, which means Marty or whoever his team was, were picking pictures of the people who could attend the audition. First round goes around, I’m waiting. People are like, Oh yeah, I got called. Did you get called? You know, you know, everybody talks, I wasn’t called in. So I call my agent. I was like, Hey, was my picture chosen? You know, I really want to be at this audition. She’s like, sorry. No. And I was like, Oh, okay. So I let a few days go by and you know, still everybody’s talking about it, call again. I’m like, Hey, just checking to see if you know, my picture was picked and I really want to be at this audition. She’s like, no, I’m sorry.  You know, just, it just wasn’t on the lineup. So again, I waited a little bit longer and then I’m like, I need to be at this audition. So I called my agent and she says again, no, I’m sorry. It’s just, the people have chosen. They’re actually doing a sign in. It’s a whole thing. And I’m really usually a rule follower as what I do. And I respect the construct, uh, that is audition process and whatnot, I just try to be respectful of it. So, but I said to her, I I’m going to go. And she said, well, if you do go, don’t tell them we sent you. And I said, okay. So that was that. So day of  the audition comes a crash, the forbidden crash of the audition. And I was glad I did. It was all the hype was all the rage. I just remember there being a line outside then getting in and seeing all the familiar faces, your peers, your friends. We had a great time. I specifically remember though from this audition, cause I do have a bad memory sometimes, but this image is imprinted in my mind is that I remember auditioning and Justin sitting next to Marty and I’m right in front of him and his piercing blue eyes are just looking dead at me. Like I can’t get out and he’s just watching me and I’m thinking like, Oh my gosh, I really just have to, like, I just have to do me. I just have to go off. You know? And sometimes that can be very nerve wracking, but I honestly think, I just felt so deeply that this was my job that I was supposed to be there. That I really just enjoyed this moment. And I kind of remember what I was wearing. I was so basic. I had on some like loose jeans that were like a tie at the ankle, uh, with elastic at the ankle.  And I had a gray tee shirt on it. Might’ve been a ACDC gray T-shirt like, I don’t even know. I don’t know. It seemed like a good choice at the time. You know, I wasn’t like sparkly and glitzy and glamorous. It was Justin Timberlake. Let’s be honest. So I think it worked anyways fast forward to, I don’t even know, maybe it was a few weeks later. Maybe it was a few days later. I get the email that I’ve booked this job, which entailed at the, originally it was for a music video. Then it was for, you know, the VMAs then it was for tour. But I think at that time we did know that we were being booked for the tour if I remember correctly. But when I say it was the greatest feeling, but I shared this story because for two reasons specifically why this is a very significant story. is that Un-officially I was the only one from this audition that booked this tour.  And I say that meaning anyone else who was involved was either assisting him or part of a previous tour or chosen ahead of time. You know, that is what I mean by that. And I was the only person who one was not invited to, who didn’t have a relationship with Marty at that audition who booked it. And I’m very proud of that. And secondly, sometimes you just got to break the rules. Sometimes the rules are meant to be broken, but you have to use discernment. And you also have to know when that time is because you don’t want to just be out there running them up. But in this particular situation, I knew that was job. My spirit told me I just had to go for it and I’d have no other way. So cheers to being a rule breaker and cheers to going after your dreams.  

Dana: All right, everybody, I hope you enjoyed those stories. I hope you learned a lot from this episode and I hope that you head into this new and slightly different audition season, audition life feeling informed and inspired. Thank you so much for listening as always keep it funky. I’ll talk to you later. 

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

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

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

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

Show Notes

Quick Links:

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

Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Okay. So,  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Did anybody raise their hand? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interesting. 

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

Opposed to women or men?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hundreds 

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

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

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

All right. Thank you. Thank you.  

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

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

Ep. #31 Words that Move THEM (A Birthday Special)

Ep. #31 Words that Move THEM (A Birthday Special)

 
 
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 If knowledge is power,  I truly cannot think of a greater gift than these power nuggets of knowledge from some super special people in my life. Today we celebrate the power of the people and the weight in their words.  Share it with a birthday buddy, and let this episode be the gift that keeps on giving!

Show Notes

Transcript:

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

Dana: Hello. Hello and welcome. Hi there I am. Dana. Welcome. If you’re new and you’re in for a treat, if you’re new and if you’re returning welcome back, you also are in for a treat. I am so excited about this episode because it is such a mixed bag, a grab bag. If you will, a surprise party, grab bag of words that move me truly. Okay. Last week I had a birthday. I had my birthday to be very specific. I’m celebrating that whole birthday week as my win for this week because although it held a lot of beautiful celebration, which is obviously worth celebrating it also held a few FFTs. I became familiar with that acronym, FFT, thanks to Brené Brown’s podcast, unlocking us highly, highly recommended. Um, FFT means the adult word for freaking first time. Freaking first time, anyways, not only did I take on this week’s FFTs with 34 years of wisdom and compassion, but I felt more like my future self this week than I ever have before my future self, by the way is pretty incredible. So that is my win. All right. What is yours? What’s your win? What are you celebrating? What is going well in your world?  

Take your time. Okay. Congratulations and keep winning. All right. This episode is not entirely about my birthday, but it is going to start out that way. I turned 34 on July 21st, which means I am 34 old and some days, I guess by now, now birthdays have always meant different things at different times in my life. For example, when I was young, they meant presents and parties and cake in my twenties, a birthday didn’t really mean that a particular day was special. Really. It became more about the day that everyone was available to get together for dinner and drinks and exchanges of special sentiments, really, really, truly special exchanges. I have had some remarkably special birthday gatherings in my life. Um, occasionally having a birthday was really just an excuse to do nothing. It’s my birthday. I’m going to do what I want or an excuse to, um, post a shameless selfie on Instagram, definitely guilty.  Um, but this year I am making 34 years old mean that I’ve been around the sun 34 times. That’s, that’s it pretty scientific, pretty sterile, but I’m deciding to be really proud of this birthday and my 34 orbits, because I think that I’ll be a better astronaut on this next trip, around the sun than I have ever been before. And that’s because I have a better view of the world now than I have ever had before. I’m jazzed about it. I think it’s very special. Um, Oh, speaking of special, let us talk about some special things that happened on the day I was born. No, thanks to Google by the way. This is thanks to my mom who may or may not have looked up all of these special things on Google. But anyways, on my birthday, July 21st, 1986, Ronald Reagan was the president of the United States. The number one movie was Aliens the sequel to Alien getting into that. Um, the number one song was Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel. Rock on and also kind of cool is that my mom was also 34 on that day. Kind of a, kind of a special, full circle thing. Um, now I do just have to share one more thing that my mom said was the most special thing about that day. And I think it’d be better to let her say it herself. Check this out.  

Stefani Wilson: The most special thing about that day is that you came into it. You who like, I didn’t know to think of you as something other than a baby. I wish I had known to think of you as this human being that you are now. That’s really who was born that day. You brought so much joy and happiness to so many people. I’m proud of you. And I love you. Happy Birthday Sweetheart 

Okay. People go with me here because I just had a serious moment. My mom said, I didn’t think to think of you as anything other than a baby. I wish I had known to think of you as this remarkable human being that you are today. I was just rocked by this idea because any time that I have ever met a baby, which is other people’s babies, obviously I do not have my own baby. I mostly just marvel at how small and perfect they are. I’m shocked that all of the things are in the right place. And they’re just so tiny, but I’m really wondering, does anyone think of their baby? Not as a baby, but as the person they’ll become, I know that actually isn’t possible because you, you know, that requires being able to tell the future at very very least it requires a tremendous amount of imagination to even try.  But does that even happen? Like when you have a baby, do you think of that baby as an adult? Or do you think of that baby as a baby? Mind Absolutely blown. So scraping myself off the floor. What I’ve learned from this message from my mom is that, um, she thinks I’m very special. Uh, I’ve also learned that I am a person that screamed and cried for the very first, but not the last time on July 21st, 1986. My mom was also 34 when I was born and I am 34 today. Okay. What else though? Like what else does it actually mean to be 34? Well, guys, I Googled it and in my very sophisticated and very systematic research, I read that on average 34 is the happiest year of our lives. Is that nuts? This is the year when people generally start checking off the big boxes, you know, the big life boxes like, get married, have kids, find stability, make real grownup money. Okay. It is safe to say that that research was obviously not conducted during 2020. I can count almost a full hand of postponed weddings this year. I have also heard, um, funny cause it’s true type of statements about the only kids being conceived during quarantine will likely be first children to their parents because parents who already have kids are homeschooling them and they are exhausted. In other words, they are not interested in making more babies, man, what a time. And speaking of the time, Corona virus, isn’t the only buzzkill of 2020 this year, this July 21st, 2020 celebration means something different to me than it ever has before to put it very simply instead of celebrating a happy birthday this year, I celebrated a human birthday, happy and sad, heavy and hopeful all at once. I am calling it my multi birthday and wow. So multi it was, this episode is my multi birthday gift to myself. And it was carefully designed so that it could be shared and be special to all of you for my birthday this year, I asked some of my favorite movers and shakers. And by the way, those are not exclusively dancers, I want to point out, for words of encouragement or their guiding principles. A favorite quote or a lesson learned or mantra. Um, some, some golden idea that’s golden in their life and in their work because man, if knowledge is power, then I truly cannot think of a greater gift than these power nuggets of knowledge. So birthday or not come back to this episode when you’re looking for something to celebrate, come back to this episode when you’re looking for power. Oh, and if power is something that you are looking for, I highly recommend the first 38 seconds of Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel. Those seconds in and of themselves are worthy of that number one slot. So please be my guest, have that gift. Enjoy these words and enjoy a very special birthday to me followed by the specialist outro song by the one and only Jermaine Spivey enjoy everybody.  

Marty Kudelka:What up y’all Marty Kudelka checking in team roast. We sizzle the most, you know how we do and the words that move me the most are “Work smarter, not harder.” And the reason why is because I found I do my best work like that. So that’s, what’s up.  

Megan Lawson: I’m Megan Lawson also known as Curious Carol, if you didn’t know, and that feels like a prevalent nickname when talking about words that move me, this is Big Magic creative Bible of mine by Elizabeth Gilbert. And uh, one of the things that really resonates with me is to “live a life driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.” Copy that. 

Jillian Meyers: Hello, movers makers, doers listening in my name is Jillian Myers and a phrase that is very important to me. A bit of a guiding star in a creative process is one that I procured from the sidewalk. I’ll just roll. It was written in sidewalk chalk. And because of that, I don’t know the author, but it is very important to me and simple. And it goes a little something like this “Make what makes you feel” it’s true and it’s good. 

Ava Bernstine-Mitchell: Hi, I’m Ava Flav . And the words that move me are your gifts are not just meant for you. They’re meant to be given away. You are blessed to be a blessing.  

Reshma: Hello? 

Miles: Hello. 

Reshma: If you’d like to introduce yourself, 

Miles: My name is Miles Crawford

Reshma: I’m Reshma Gajjar, Miles. Do you have some wisdom to share? 

I do. I’m glad you asked. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you wanna go really fast? Go alone. But if you want to go far go together.  

This morsel of wisdom, I’m still trying to figure out. He literally said this to me like two days ago, because I’m still trying to go fast alone. Apparently it’s really embarrassing, but yes, if you want to go far go together. That’s what he said. Mine has been really hard for me to choose because there’s just so many, so many guiding things in my life. But I do have to say the thing that really shows up constantly is to “trust in divine timing.” I feel like we here, timing is everything. And, um, it is, and I think there’s only so much we have control over. That’s all we can do is control what we can, but to, to have faith and to actually trust and surrender and divine timing to actually do that versus intellectually know that timing is everything. That’s been a big one for me.  

But on that note, as far as big ones, I got a big surprise for you. The ultimate nugget of wisdom offerings. My mom, mom. 

Renuka Gajjar: Yeah, I, hi, Dana. What I learned is that I cannot be a fast. Everything I do is gonna take time, but I don’t care. I just realized that never stop learning. And I think more, I try. More I learn doesn’t matter. It takes me a long time because all I hear is nothing but time. Okay. So yeah, this is true. 

Reshma: There is no such thing as time. Time doesn’t exist in calendar. Apparently just like our age. I said that somebody, somebody very wise said that to me once, if the time doesn’t exist in a calendar, we are timeless. Happy birthday. We love you so much.

Liana Blackburn: Hello, Liana Blackburn here. The words that move me are “I am completely committed yet on attached” To me, this phrase means that I can be completely committed to my relationships, my passions, my jobs, my loves, and also unattached from results, expectations or anything that I think should be offered to me in return. From that commitment, I am completely committed yet un attached.  

Nicholas Palmquist: Hi, my name is Nicholas Palmquist and a word that moves me right now, I’d have to say is curiosity. Uh, I want to have this personal desire to learn more about something and to better understand it because, um, I’m literally curious about it. I just want to know. And I think the more you want to know about something, the more you’ll investigate it and that will lead it to, um, being connected to all of these other things that you also learn about. So that’s really, what’s driving me these days, curiosity.  

Lisette Bustamante: Hello. My name is Lisette Bustamante And the words that move me are “When everyone seems to be swimming upstream, go ahead and flow downstream” because, uh, I’ve learned over the years that when you try to work against the current, um, it just feels like you’re struggling to move. And so I sit back, put my behind my head and I swim and flow downstream and let go, let go of trying to be in control of things.  

Ryan Walker Page: Hi Dana happy birthday. I’m weighing in on the request to let you know words that have guided, supported, inspired me that maybe like still hold a lot of rank in my life. Uh, for me, what first comes up is developmental psychology sort of falls off after the age of 26. So there in lies, this sort of like moot point of like, Oh, do we stop developing? Surely that can’t be true. And so this guy Robert Keegan’s swooped in and was like, um, basically created the architecture for something called adult development. And um, he boils it down to this idea of like one’s ability to hold complexity. Um, so can you coordinate multiple perspectives? Can you walk with contradiction? Like what is your bandwidth, um, in and for life? And so he like puts it in this imagery. This is like the ODA Twilight version of it or sure. But the first stage is that you are like swimming in this water and the water is like the beliefs attitudes that you inherited that you have, like not yet questions. Then the next stage is when that water starts to drain, uh, which can be like very lonely and empowering. And actually those things know each other and you find this rock. So you’re like out of the water and onto the rock and the rock is firm and clear and bold and you have sight and ability to look at what was in relationship to maybe what you want. And so that rock represents what you want and this sort of like quest to author your own experience. The next stage, according to this guy is after you’ve like, um, positioned this rock as a lifeline and are sure about it and see where you were and can dive into that water when you want, but also sort of take a satellite view to it. You realize the rock has been a beach ball and it’s like a profound beach ball, cause it’s like the beach ball of your life. But, um, the beach ball yields and the beach ball plays and the beach ball has more of like a dancing choreography than a rock. You basically gain like a more robust emotional profile where like grief, um, can be cut with joy can be cut with loss, can be cut with humor. And these sort of like defined boundaried categories, but between things softens and it sort of like opens up the dance floor of your mind and your experience of life. And, um, I love that this imagery treats play as, as important as maybe the heavy blows of life and, um, finding a mental space that can coordinate and house and like, uh, integrate all of those things. It just feels so expansive and believable. Um, happy birthday. That’s my thing.  Oh and this is Ryan Walker Page! 

Kathryn Burns: Hi, it’s Kathryn Burns. And the words that move me are do unto others as you would have them do unto you the golden role Simple, Sweet, stay kind.  

Dom Kelley: Okay. Hi, my name is Dominique Kelly and the words that moved me are just be better. 

Chonique: Hey this is Chonique and the words that move me are “They tell me life is a marathon and I hope I brought the right shoes” And that’s because life is a marathon its not a sprint its not a destination its a journey and just having the tools that you need daily for the present moment is the only thing that’s going to get you to move to the next thing. So, that’s what I believe, that’s what I move by, and I love you Dana, Happy Birthday! 

Spenser Theberge: Hi, it’s Spenser Theberge, and the words that move me are “Learning is like a feedback loop. Remember to look outside of yourself as much as you look inside.” 

Nina McNeely: This is Nina McNeely. And the words that moved me are “to compare is to despair” Love you cream cheese, Danish.

Poppin’ Pete: Hey, what’s up? Dana, Poppin’ Pete here. Um, my cool mantra is “keep going, keep growing and keep it funky.” And what keeps me moving is the absolute love of the dance. The very first time I saw poppin’ or anything, um, I fell in love with it and I carried the love of the dance respecting that. And that keeps me going. That’s why I’ve been around for 42 years. Peace and love. Happy birthday, Dana. Yeah.  

Chloe Arnold: Hi, this is Chloe Arnold’s. I want to wish the happiest birthday to my dear friend and sister Dana Wilson. I love you. I support you. I think you’re absolutely brilliant on and off the dance floor and words that move me. Wow. Words that move me. Well, words that move you words that move us. Uh, things that I like to think about are to remember, to imagine it, to dream it, to work hard, to achieve it and to share it and then repeat. So I hope those words move you and I love you so much, sister, friend, and I can’t wait to see you soon.  

Tom Sachs: Hi, this is Tom Sachs, happy birthday. Um, it’s been four years since we’ve met your, my first internet friend. You’re the first person I met, um, through the device. And so I’ll never forget, uh, that in our times in San Francisco, learning to backslide and an operate the table saw in the maker space. Um, have a great birthday continue, please, to be brave with your desire and never ever, ever give up. You’re a leader. We all look to you for strength. So these tough times. Please stay focused. Love you. 

Emma Portner: Hello. This is Emma Portner live from my bed. Some words that move me are, “if I’m not tt thank you for letting me know,” happy birthday, Dana, I love you so much. I’m the podcast biggest fan. And, uh, I’ve listened to it all over the world. And it’s always brought me a sense of, um, familiarity at the same time as challenging me, which I really, really love. Um, and that’s all I have to say right now, but happy birthday, Dayna,  

Toni Basil: Happy birthday, Tony basil here. Keyed. My words don’t stop. Oh, no. Don’t stop. Or the rehearsal gods will never forgive you and you can’t get them back. You cannot get them back to 

Jermaine Spivey: *Sings with the voice of an angel*

Dana: Wow I really don’t want to make a sound after that beautiful birthday salute. Thank you Jermaine Spivey. How is it possible that you sound as sweet as you move. I don’t get it! Maybe next year on my birthday I’ll do my cover of your birthday song to me. Thank you so much Jermaine, and thank you everybody for your birthday wishes. Thank you so much movers and shakers that I look to for words to move me. And thank you all of you for listening, for being here with me in celebration of my 34th trip around the sun. You know what to do now, Keep it funky.

Ep. #21 Not Booking (A.K.A. Not Getting What You Want)

Ep. #21 Not Booking (A.K.A. Not Getting What You Want)

 
 
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This episode goes out to everyone that wants to be booked and isn’t.  It goes out to the Graduating Seniors that want the cap and gown gathering.  It goes out to the dancers that want to win a title at Nationals this year.  This goes out to everyone that wants to have their highest earning year (you still might by the way… but you might not).  This episode is about not getting what you want.  And news flash… most of us aren’t good at not getting what we want… so let’s get to work

Show Notes

Transcript:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really. That’s it. I hope you dug this conversation about not booking as much as you like actually booking. And if you do go leave a review, go leave a rating and I will talk to you soon. Keep it funky y’all. That’s different. Keep it funky y’all. I dunno. It’s not not so good. Stay safe. Stay soapy and keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon. 

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

Ep. #16 Serious Silliness with Kat Burns

Ep. #16 Serious Silliness with Kat Burns

 
 
00:00 / 00:47:22
 
1X
 

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

Show Notes

Quick Links:

Kat Burns

WTMM Patreon

UCB

My Crazy Ex Audition Submission

Raggle Taggle Dance Hour

Totally Unmorganized

The Dance Room

Transcript:

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

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

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

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

Kat: Yeah!

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

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

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

It’s two, right. She’s a two timer. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I like to call them dance enthusiasts. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exactly. 

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

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

Or not for you. 

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

And they were like, you’re in. 

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

Tiny. We’re all micro types. Yeah. 

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s the point. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m so glad that exists. 

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

Well that is the way LA was my friend.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what we call full out. 

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

The costumes or the people that were tired? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Werk, my favorite,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your, you’re doing such a good job. 

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

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

Ep. 15 The Seaweed Sisters: WHO ARE WE, AND… WHAT IS THIS???

Ep. 15 The Seaweed Sisters: WHO ARE WE, AND… WHAT IS THIS???

 
 
00:00 / 00:53:43
 
1X
 

Without giving away ALL of our secrets, Jillian Meyers, Megan Lawson and I demystify our unicorn performance project– The Seaweed Sisters.  This episode lets you into our world and our process. At the core of every seaweed spore, you’ll find serious silliness, Discovery, Exploration, and COLLABORATION!

Show Notes

Quick Links:

The Seaweed Sisters: https://www.theseaweedsisters.com/home

Megan Lawson: Megan Lawson

Jillian Meyers: Jillian Myers,

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 everybody and welcome to episode 15. I hope you’re doing good out there and I hope you are ready for this. This episode is a good one. If I do say so myself, although I guess I am pretty biased, but let’s get into it. Starting off with wins. I’m very proud of my win this week because it was a big challenge but a very worthy one. My husband and I shipped over 200 reusable face shields directly to the doctors and the hospitals that need them the most. I’m super proud and if you are interested in how you might be able to, uh, help in a similar way or if you’re interested in helping my husband and I should we decide to do a repeat effort, then go ahead and send me a direct message @danadaners on Instagram. Very much looking forward to hearing from you. Okay. So that’s my win. Now you go, what’s going well in your world? Oh wait.  

Okay. Killer. I’m so glad you’re winning. Congratulations. 

Now speaking of winning, I finally got to sit down with my two seaweed sisters. It’s okay if you don’t know what that means yet cause you’re about to, um, these two women are probably my biggest influences and I’m just thrilled to share some of what, uh, we, we dug up and dug into. So I hope you enjoy this conversation with Jillian Myers and Megan Lawson, my seaweed sisters.  

Dana:  I can’t think of a better day than this rainy day to invite my two favorite people, Megan Lawson and Jillian Myers, my seaweed sisters to be podcasts sisters today. Welcome to the podcast, ladies. Thank you for being here. And I’m going to ask you really quickly to introduce yourselves.  

it does feel like there should be an applause, right? Like a cheer.  

Jillian: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Or I can imagine your theme *sings themesong*

Dana: It’s funky, right? It’s very good. I love it. Much shout up max the music man. Thank you for that funky jingle. Okay, cool. I I take it away. Someone who’s it gonna be, who’s it gonna be? 

Megan: And this is probably our most dreaded part. Um, I am Megan Lawson. I am from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. And like my fellow sisters, I am a dancer, choreographer, director, movement coach, teacher, you name it. We got it. 

Dana: Beautiful list of things to own. Yeah. 

Jillian: And most importantly Seaweed sister 

We’re all wearing our matching seaweed sister blouses today. It’s still a blouse. If it’s denim. 

Yeah. Why not? It buttons. It’s good. I think, you know, it’s definitely our best swag. Maybe our only swag, but it is the best swag. 

So currently our only swag, let’s get on that after the call. We’ll get on the merch. Merch front. Okay. Jilly, who are you? 

Oh my gosh. Well you said half of my name, Jillian Meyers. That’s me. Uh, and I, I, I liked the location base. I grew up just outside of Portland, Oregon and have lived in LA for a very long time, I think. Okay. 14, 15 years, something like that. And, uh, dancer, choreographer, teacher, director, mover maker, doer, lover, seaweed, sister.  

All right. Um, beautiful, brilliant intros. Thank you. Yes. Okay. So I think I haven’t really kept, uh, a tally. Yeah. But of all the people and ideas that I mentioned on the podcast, I think, I think the seaweed sisters are front runner on most mentioned. Um, and every time I mention it, I feel the need to, uh, introduce or explain us to people who might not know who the seaweed sisters are. And every time I start to do that, I stopped doing that because it’s kind of a challenge to explain exactly what it is that we are. So what I would love to do today is without spoiling any of the magic, just demystify a little bit. Mmm. Who we are and what we do and what is at the core of our universe. You know, what are our guiding principles? What is the seaweed sisters North star?  Um, so, so that’s kind of a big bite actually for if for type of podcasts. So I’m going to start with one of my favorite questions to receive about any of our work. And that is  Mmm. “What is this? “Usually people are watching or listening and they’re looking and they’re like, okay. Oh yeah. So it’s a video and it’s sorted. Is it dance? Is it, what exactly is this? So on the theme of what is this, I’m going to ask just kind of a, uh, blazing round of questions. Um, and I’m going to ask what is blank? So, uh, let’s start with, Mmm. Ooh. I’ve got a shortlist and they’re all, you’re all kind of challenging. Um, let’s start with… Okay. What is the process, in other words, when Dana, Jillian and Megan get in a room, what is happening in there?

A lot of that, a lot of giggle’s, that’s for sure. We laugh our butts off cause I think, um, we like to do things that tickle us genuinely, genuinely. There we go. Um, so, and if it doesn’t have a tickle or a funny fancy, then a lot of times those things don’t stay. That’s one. I dunno. Magoo what do you got? 

Megan: Uh, acceptance, which comes in, uh, in the form of “yes, and” uh, seeing an admiring each other and  being a fan is it makes it so easy to make, uh, in the studio because we see one move, we say, yep, That and add a little flippiety floppity. And on it goes. 

Yes and, okay, yes. This is a great place to start. Actually. A really good tip of a very big iceberg is this concept of taking silliness very seriously and our general rule for that is to say yes to whatever happens in the room and a modification. Um, this is a widely known improvisation concept. Uh, nothing that we invented or that’s new to the world of creating things actually I think is also even outside of the creative world. Helpful in relationships, helpful in business, helpful in all realms of life. Just saying yes, and 

Dance lessons are life lessons!

Dance lessons are life lessons and improv techniques should be life techniques. Um, so it definitely helps that we adore and admire the things that come out of each other.  Um, so saying yes is never, I’ve never felt like, Oh, uh, I want to say no. Um, but the answer is always yes, and how else or yes, and what else? Yes, and what more yes, and what does it mean yes, and in what direction? Yes, and can we do it backwards, sideways, upside down in a circle? 

Yes, and how many times should we do it? Four times, for sure. 

So really, I don’t remember when that began for us, but it has been there almost the entire time, if not the entire time, because with um, I think all three of us are, uh, pretty juicy on the thoughtful front. We’re not ever lacking ideas, I guess I would say, dare I say. Um, so the actual, the editing can be hard and that usually happens in the and part. So all the ideas come up with yes. And then in this and process, we revise and refine and we sort of edit down and we get to a place where all three of us are. Like, I love that. Mmm. And then occasionally in the event that we don’t all three agree, which has happened maybe once or twice, we do kind of go for like a vote. Okay. I really love it. I really love it. Okay, great. I think it’s good. Let’s go for it. Yup. 

The real two thirds. Yeah. I think we’ve tried to really stick to that. Like two out of three are in, then we go and we keep moving. 

Yup. Nice. I love that. Beautiful. Okay. Tie that up with a bow. Um, what are the seaweed sisters? What are we doing?  

Hmm. Long extended pause. For me. This question, the answer is sort of varies depending on who I’m talking to and that might be awful and it might surprise you to hear. Like that. I, I don’t have like an elevator pitch, one size fits all answer to that question. But if I’m talking to an actor or comedian, I say that we are dancers that call on comedy. Whimsy, Mmm. Site specific. Even acting. Mmm. And then if I’m talking to dancers, I say we’re a Yeah. Clown, clown types, actors that use movement to, um, to, to tickle. Um, if I’m talking to parents, I say that we are the Disney and Pixar of dance, which, which is definitely self flattery, 

but I don’t think it’s untrue though. not untrue. 

It’s not untrue, accessible and relatable to very little young, young ones, young minds, but also, uh, big picture ideas that really hit home for people that have lived a lot of life.  

So that I, yeah, I guess my answer to what are we kind of shifts, um, depending on who I’m talking to. Do you guys want to add anything to, 

Yeah. I mean, we started as a couple of friends that wanted to dance together. Right? Right. Yeah. As you’ve shared, we are our tribes ladies. We’re, we’re of the same, uh, thoughtfulness and curiosity and desire for, uh, for something different. And one of our bedrocks being discovery, uh, I think that comes into our dance moves themselves. Like, Hey, how else can we move? Uh, but also the, the why and the where and uh, the imagination of, like you said, if you’re talking to parents, we go Disney because it feels relatable and appropriate for everybody. And that inclusivity is important to us. 

Yeah. Inclusivity, discovery. These are like  are hugely guiding principles and also otherness being being a, um, less identifiable as dancer or woman or lady.  And we are this thing, 

Oh man, I think, yeah, I’m with you Willis. As far as like kind of the description, you know, kind of being malleable. I think a lot of times I, or what I’ve found myself recently saying, it’s like we’re seaweed sisters is a performance project because it’s like, I like that it can then take on many different shapes because yes, we make videos. Yes, we do. Mmm. You know, live shows. Yes, we do kind of site-specific interactive shows. We’ve done this. And um, I think even though we’ve been at this for six years now, I think, you know, which is wild and awesome. I think we are still kind of like just the way seaweed is a little eh anamorphic or kind of like ever moving an amoeba that kind of is continuously changing shape. I think we want to have that flexibility to try all those different things.  Also as you said  without a shortage of ideas, we, there’s a lot of things we want to try. So um, yeah I find that I try not to describe it too much so that it can kind of be anything that might appeal to you or you or you, I don’t know. It’s hard but also that’s what I love about it. 

That’s a great point is that the seaweed sisters might actually suffer from too much definition, too much description and too much pinning down because although we are six years old, we are only six years old and there is so much to be done.  

So that’s, that’s what we are, what we do, what we’re about a little bit video, a little bit, live a little bit site and we also teach because we all teach individually. Sometimes we teach together and because the work is so much about discovery and individuality, personality inclusivity, okay. When we teach seaweed material all and like those little spores go out into the world. Some of the weeds that come back out of that like, Oh man, our extended seaweed family, all of our students. Um, I’m so grateful to them and seeing that because it, okay, after six years of working together, it’s sort of like we’ve established a language in these characters sort of accidentally. Like we never sat at a drawing board and said like, Oh, okay, you’re the dumb one. You’re the dumber one, you’re the dumbest one.  We never had that, in that sense, like very different than Disney, way less strategy in terms of like, you know, building the thing that the consumer will love is just like we say yes to ourselves and we say and to each other and, and then, and then the seaweed falls out, go, go, go. 

Oh no. Well, I mean I agree so much with what you’re saying. I think a lot of it just kind of is our alchemy Like when we come together, the things that happen and that we don’t question that we just kind of go with it. And what I actually, I’m having memories of like, I think what we most discover or define those things are at like a Q and A situation. Yeah. When students ask us questions or propose things and we’re like, Oh yeah, that, that, that is true. You know, or like I’ll never forget the time and she phrased this question or slash statement so beautifully about women in the industry of physical comedy and, you know, and we were like, Oh, not even something that is consciously on our radar, but yet that is really subconsciously important to all three of us and also just comes out.  It’s, you know, a part of who we are. But, um, I remember after that point I really like kind of doing a little research and yeah, just kind of considering that now at the forefront of my mind as a part of what we do, where it’s, it was always present. I just hadn’t thought of it that way. 

Yeah. Right. You know, I’ve always in my life valued humor, um, but moving to LA in like 2005 and really gearing my efforts towards becoming a entertainment industry dancer. Okay. Whether that’s backup for an artist or in commercials and film is almost always about being cool or being sexy. And a maybe a combination of the two, a different ratio of those two things, but pretty exclusively cool and sexy. And the seaweed sisters helped me remember how important humor and otherness is to me. And so I think for me, the expected benefit is like rediscovering one of my huge values in life and, uh, delivering to a world that I know and love, right.  The entertainment industry, a healthy dose of that, of those values. So that’s been really cool. Um, but what else has sprung from this? Other than some pretty awesome relationships. 

Yeah. That actually, that comes to mind so quickly for me is just this sisterhood, uh, yeah. Both creatively, but also you two just activate, uh, the human in me, uh, 

Oh, tears. 

Yeah. Yeah. That, uh, I don’t have any sisters biologically. Uh, so you two. Uh, yeah, just, it really opened me to a world of, um, honesty and Whoa, sorry. Wills that just went vulnerable really quick. 

That’s the part of it!

Yeah. Yeah. I can, I can offer up anything without fear with you guys. And then that can maybe go into the world and that’s, yeah, it was special and very unexpected. Just like ms emotion.

Oh yes, and. Yes. Yes. Tears and I applaud them. I applaud you. That is another, this is brilliant. Emotionality. Is one of art talents. I think one of our strengths. Oh, and we do have a slogan by the way. 

We do, I know, I’m like, which one? 

Speaking of strengths. 

Oh, strength is not our strength. 

Strength is not our strength. If you, if you watch our work, very capable dancers I would say, but never calling on great feats of strength, endurance, stamina even, but emotionality. Yes. You will find. And the, and the full human spectrum. Um, and I, I think that that’s special. Mmm, and unique to us is that even in one work you, you’ll probably see the whole, the whole spectrum. And I think that’s super fun. 

And on that same note as well. Uh, and we talk about it and giggle about silliness and how one might watch our work and think like, Oh, that’s funny, but we take our silliness very seriously.  And that is how it also is able to connect because we’ve got, it’s still athletic. It still has the dance to reinforce what we’re trying to pass on and it’s, it’s not just a flip flop, but it’s got a lot of work and thought behind it. 

Curation, thought. Yeah. Thought and really like specificity. Which yes, at a glance it might seem very more so happenstance, but yeah. Each of those flops and little eye twitches are considered. We talk about them, you know, why is that happening? How do you feel when you do that? Okay, cool. Maybe I’ll try that. And yeah, I think  that is also what kind of sets apart our work is that it doesn’t feel hazardous. It isn’t just a kind of cacophony of like things and faces and you know, cause that also happens and can be great. But Mmm. even in it’s kind of, it creates a very specific harmony.  I think of that, that it, you know, it touches on all those things quickly. It is like dance that is very at times like very specific and then very loose or free. And uh, we value all of it and try to make it all happen and clear and um, it’s an important part of what we do. And we love that. It’d be a good thing. You know, 

Cosign! 

Yes. Yeah. Brings us so much joy. 

Yeah. It’s the, the process itself, like fuels more process. Um, and the process is deep, right? Like there’s the brainstorming, you mentioned the yes part and then there’s the editing and there’s the stepping back and taking a look. Um, we also are getting pretty, uh, refined in the process to the point where if for example, we’re making a video work, we usually start by settling on a song and then we see, uh, location where this might take place and environment.  Yep. And we get in the studio and brainstorm the bits and we say yes. And then we usually make a prototype video. 

Which shout out to Dana Wilson who is our technical weed. Yes, yes. It’s come into play to help us so much in our weedness. It’s true. 

It’s, it’s definitely helpful when you’re trying to do something that’s difficult to explain as we already demonstrator. So sometimes the best, the best way for us to get a team on board or to explain our vision, um, is to just show. So we’ll do a little prototype. Um, and that helps us get to the next step, which is ultimately producing these things. Um, and let’s talk a little bit about that. Oh guys, I’m reworking my thoughts around passion project that phrase. It’s, it’s a project project. They’re all passion projects because I love what I do. Passion project usually comes with the notation of like low budget project.  It is an out of pocket project for us. Nobody’s paying for us to do these other than ourselves. Uh, because of that we, we want to, we want every moment and every dime of it to be a memorable and lovable moment and dime.

Ooh. And wills. Can I throw in also in the thought of like, you know, that collaboration like being such a big part of all of our projects that we’ve made and also is like kind of the origin seed of the seaweed sisters. Why we made anything in the beginning is because none of us had ever gotten to work together. We’ve never all made something together, three dear friends that like, as you said in the commercial kind of sense as far as work goes, had never ended up in the same place. So it was the ultimately the impetus to want that we wanted to make something together to collaborate and that’s how our first making ever happens.  

Yes, And! after we made that first thing, which was actually a piece for a live performance, somebody, Lando Wilkin’s approached us about making it into a video. We didn’t even, that was, that happened to us, the, you know, the invite into the video realm, which, 

And I wouldn’t even say approach. He just like, yo, you have to, you have to film it at a pool. 

I was like, I got up and he was like, I got a friend, we got a camera, let’s go. 

Oh, that’s so, yeah. And I love that for anybody. If you see something, you, you never know what those moments are going to turn into. If you hire someone and you, and you’d just give him a little poke. It could, yeah. Ignite so much. Um, okay. This what the heck? Six years later, I’m not sure, inevitably we would have worked together again. Um, but I don’t know if it would have totally, really bonded this puppy. Yes. Thank you. Lando. 

Shout out. Do we call him Papa weed? I something like this or elder weed. I don’t know. He’s something.  

Um, I think that we just gave new meaning to see something, say something. And I think that’s also part of our process. Right. And we’re always kind of like all eyes on each other in the room and it a little, a little something comes out and we’re like, Oh yes. uh. Um, so see something, say something. I think that’s a great attitude to have out there in the world. Mmm. And in a studio in a creative place. Yeah. Um, and I also want to take a moment to thank you guys for the say something part, always coming with kindness and with consideration. Mmm. Because anybody that’s working in a creative field knows that collaboration is not always encouraging. There’s, a lot of places, points in the process that you can get ripped apart. And, um, I’ve, I’ve never felt that with you guys and I don’t know if that’s the secret to success or if maybe we’re missing something by being less critical. I don’t know. But I love, I subscribed to the sistership and this is one of my favorite creative processes to be that I’ve ever been involved in. It’s just so nurturing and I think it’s great. Yeah. Amen. 

And to like expand that back out to kind of where we just were. I think that would go towards all of our collaborators as well. Like have people that are very like Uber creative people, but that care. And um, yeah, I would say any of our collaborators really, especially as far as like friends when we coming to filming things. Um, people that see us, people that are excited about, you know, what, what we want to do and they want to get in there and get dirty. Especially as far as like it being a, a project of love and lower means sometimes, but we really make it mean something. 

Yes. Um, financial means and meaningfulness. Yes. Yeah. Or not, uh, not directly linked. Okay. Let’s take a second and talk about our teams then. So we talked a little bit about Lando and the first video, which is called Get Free, right? It was shot by Andrew Rose 

And the song is called Get Free, but we called it Get Sea. 

Oh, great point. Because we love a play on words if you haven’t noticed. Mmm. And then piece number two, we called the “Sea”quel. Whoa. See what we did there. Um, and that was shot and directed. Bye Isaac Ravishankara   um, with Danny Madden as well at the helm. And I don’t know how we even divvied up the titleship to those. It really is it’s big stew. And we just stew in it together. 

You hold the camera, you throw the water balloon no more in the face. Now hold it. 

Right, right. Um, so and so’s working on storyboard. Will so-and-so is cutting a wig. Well, so-and-so is making the costume. Well, so and so is making sure that hard-drives are all freed up. 

That was such a wild weekend. Yeah. We had rented an Airbnb in Joshua tree and it was a weekend of executing the sequel and I have this memory of Danny Madden who is also an animator drawing out the entire storyboard beautifully. I think we still haven’t sent her and uh, and then more friends arrived the next day because we also were performing at Coachella with Hozier that weekend. 

Yes. Yes. And Issac who is a dear friend and director is his job. One of his jobs, he danced with us. Yes. He was my partner. I needed a partner. 

We were rehearsing Friends were filling up water balloons. Matty Peacock’s in the back filling up balloons, all hands on deck, just all the friends and rehearsing in the Airbnb that night, 

Amidst air mattresses. 

And you came out. Mmm. Our jackets our weed jackets, which were so dirty, so dirty with lit, with actual dirt. 

Shout out Pono, cutting our wigs, getting our jackets. Yes. Yes. There were so many good memories that weekend 

Also, I think building and like reinforcing the yes. And uh, there were supposed to be two friends that in the middle of that video there was supposed to be a duel who ended up not making it. And so on the fly in like in the middle of our day when we’re like supposed to shoot it in an hour, we like took like a stop.  Everything stopped down. Yeah. Okay. What else can this be now? Because that was accounting for a big part of the song. And so that’s actually when the kind of water balloon fight, idea of Mirage born, and then there are good. The bad, the ugly moment. Yes. Yeah. It was never, that’s not what that, what we thought we were making, but that’s what we made. 

That’s incredible. I think that’s another kind of brilliant, Mmm. Metaphor is one of the best properties of seaweed is it’s looseness. Right? Totally. Yeah. And we’re, we’re were three ladies that individually have a lot of plans. We’re very good at making plans, but we’re also very good at rolling with it. When the plans change, would they, which they ultimately will 

Always, and again, like two collaborators that are also very strong suited in that remark. Like, Oh, not this. Both of them.  Yeah. Like, Oh, not that. Okay. Then what about this, this or this? Like they’re both so good. Another great chance to learn from others in that skill, you know, which was, it’s such a gift.

Oh yeah. I remember being holed up in that bunker. Wait, hold up. H. O. L. E. D. I struggled with that in a previous podcast and I talked to my mom last night, who is my editor. And she was like, honey, it’s hold up like you’re in a hole. And I was like, okay, great. So we were holed up in a literal bunker, like, what are we going to do? But are we going to do? And in my mind, I was like, Oh, we’re going to have to pay for another Airbnb day. We’re gonna have to wait. We’re going to have to blah, blah, blah. And then the answer to that was like, no, thats one of the nos that we did accept and it was substituted by it.  Uh, a very colorful and bright and fun idea. I think that’s, yeah, some of the, some of the ways that we solve problems. Mmm. Because of our limitations in time and in finance, uh, are the most creative things. Right? If we had all the money in the world, we’d have just extended a day or hired two new dancers or whatever. But I, I love the creativity that’s resulted from those limitations. 

Million percent agreed. Seaweed solutions

Seaweed solutions. While if we get, we should sell a toner, like a facial toner or like a full face line in seaweed solutions. 

That’s what you are also our merch captain. I think you’re already tech weed and our merch weed. You’d have a million ideas for seaweed merch. 

Mind you, we don’t have any yet, but that’s okay.  

Pins, Puzzles magnents. 

Oh my gosh. Okay. Listeners vote toe vote on this. Do you guys, are you guys familiar with toevote? Okay. <inaudible> vote on this right now. 3D printed seaweed faces that are a mockup of Mount Rushmore. Yeah. Like just our three faces. Little 3D prints come on. 

Toes voting. Yes, So vote yes on that. Yup. 

Okay. Let’s keep walking through the catalog really quick. So part tree, um, Isaac and Danny both. And Jackie. Yes. Oh my gosh. Yes. Jackie. Yes. Super shout out Jackie. The best. Yes. If you’re gonna be holed up in a cabin with five people, I would definitely want you five people to be there. 

Oh and greer! 

There we go. We had a super, super helper. When we say helper, we mean like contributor, energetic healer, um, the many hat wearer. 

Many hat wearer, we need a glue gun and a water. And thinking ahead, 

There is also the only human, the seaweed universe has ever seen or interacted. It’s her in the soubs with Subaru at the end. So good

Okay. And then from part tree from the lush, lush for us, we go color wise, we jumped back in time, back in time to the birth of weeds. This superstar, crystal clear, pristine, clean, blank space. Um, and we really wanted us to all have been born from the same pod. I remember for a long time of trying to figure out how we could like build a sheth or a cocoon, something where we could be born from. And that was one of the, one of the ideas that I think we did edit out. A Peapod, a pea pod or maybe maybe it didn’t get edited out, just moved to the parking lot for another time. Mmm. But for that, we recruited our dear friends Angela Kohler and  Ithyle Griffiths to direct and shoot. 

And Ang suggested this place. Right. I feel like, yeah, we kind of had the idea, but she was on the kind of scouted this place and made it possible to have, like, we, I think we, yeah, we thought about a starker environment and she, she made that happen. 

You’re so right. And we says, okay, what was it called? Weeses Pieces  is that whats its called? Yeah. A little outside LA. A magical place. You’ll, you’ll recognize it from Um, several commercials. And music videos. Uh, Brittany Spears did the one with the Sharks there. Um, and uh, that also cool feature or cool behind the scenes note for the listeners was shot on the summer solstice. Uh, also the hottest day of the year that year. And we are wearing essentially trash bag suits that seal at the neck and rubber hats. So none of us blacked out that day is magical to me. 

Not to mention that the way those suits state taught and full is a little fan on the back that pushes air from the outside and pushes it in 114 degrees that day. And we chose that. That was our choice. We also wore unitards underneath those. Oh my gosh. Yes. Holy moly. Oh guys. Oh, the choices. Yeah, we do. We laugh all the time. We choose, we are responsible for all of it. 

Right. And we’re standing there looking at ourselves wearing sleeping bags with cut out for arms and we’re like, we chose this. This was our choice. A white unitard white this is great. 

Wouldn’t change a thing. 

Nope. That was such a fun and challenging day. I also speaking of challenges on that day. Okay. Um, unique challenge to the seaweed sisters. Uh, it’s not every set that you walk onto that you’ll hear somebody say how, how do we make the Flamingo fart? And the answer to that question Daniel Reetz. the Daniel Reetz also known as vice chief, also known as my husband, also known as MacGyver. Yes. Who engineered a remote detonated Flamingo fart enhanced by our editor and special effects super guru Arian Sohili 

Who was also camera that day and in the water. And then like sunglasses, the glare from the sun on the water couldn’t like see, I think Ann’s got a migraine that day also for him cause it was so bright. Like she was a pregnant as well. Oh my gosh. 

We also bought a trampoline transport and built a trampoline in the middle of nowhere and it just was easier for us to leave it there. So donated that to Reese’s Pieces. Good Job, good job. That took us airborne. We were such little balloon weeds. 

That was so much fun. Oh my gosh. As the light was going down, just like hurry, get in there.  Jump! Oh my gosh. We were fighting the sun that day even though it was one of the longest days of the year. But Whoa. 

We used every bit of that sunlight. Sure did.

Have we ever done a shoot that took more than one day? 

I mean, technically sequel, exactly. The second day we did, I think we did a lot of inserts of the water balloons, hence why friends were filling them up in the morning. Like we had to get some stuff, I think flying through the air, the pickup. But other than that, everything has been contained to one day or, or early morning. 

So that brings us to the rather important video that we, it’s our most recent video work, which we shot in the back bottom of an empty pool. Yeah. All through the night. So it was a night shoot. And that one was directed by dear seaweed, sister friend and ally Mimi cave.  

And it was produced by Heron Bourke and the DP was David Bourke, her husband. Mmm. We had an assistant camera that day. That was Walter Dandy and a gaffer, Austin Michaels. Um, we had an electric, we had a lot of hands this day. Yeah, yeah. Um, and a key grip. Even we had a key grip you guys, that’s important. Uh, Colin Lindsey was our grip and then we even have a magical mystical drone shot at the end of that. Um, and our drone was piloted by Jacob Patrick. Um, but the rest of everything was shot on steady cam by our barnacle brother Devin Jamieson coming through in the clutch.  Biggest love. 

Who also kind of helped coin or what is this? Because the first time Dev came to her rehearsal cause he’s like, I’d love to see it. Of course. We’re like, yes, come watch end of rehearsal. That was his first remark after we showed him the whole thing, he looked at us and he’s like so what is this like with excitement and curiosity and confusion? Um, and I think that’s the, one of the biggest compliments I have taken away from our seaweed showings is that remark. 

Oh my gosh, you’re so right. It’s a compliment. Like when somebody says, what is this? We go, thank you. Thank you. Totally 

Confusion, encouraged 

New tagline. Um, and that is, that’s where we left off with our video works, but that is certainly not the last thing that we have done together. Actually rather important birthed a really, really special and unique and cool and magical and cherished insert. Other positive adjectives, um, relationship with two women who go by Lucius, a musical group. Uh, Jilly, do you want to talk about that a little bit? 

Oh man. Uh, yeah, actually again, a pivot point is Mimi. So, um, like rewind back a little bit. I think the ladies from Lucius were looking for just kind of some movement coaching. They’re about to go on tour and Mimi suggested me and so we only got to have a couple of like dance sessions before they left and then I left, I forget. I think we were leaving for Rocky horror. I think this was like at the end of 2015, something like that. And, um, yeah. So it builds a little connection, friendship there and fast forward, kind of keeping in touch. These two ladies are not only incredible, incredible singers, but also lovers of dance. And, uh, they had a couple of shows for new years that they w-wanted to opening acts and they wanted one of their opening acts to be just dance or not just but dance. How about that? And they reached, they reached out to me and they were like, do you happen to know a group of maybe two or three people that would come to San Francisco, it’s not a lot of money and do these couple of shows. And I was like, well, I’m kind of a part of a group of two or three.  And they were like, okay, great. They were like, we wanted it to be the, this you guys, you ladies the seaweed sisters, but you know, it, you know, they were like, didn’t want to impose or ask, ask too much. But anyhow, uh, so that provided this really beautiful opportunity for us to, uh, perform live and to make a longer, long, longer work essentially because it was a set. So just like an opener would have a 20 minute set before the band. That’s what they wanted. So in a small space and for people that would have surely never have known who we are before that and maybe let alone ever gotten to just see a dance performance and uh, they brought us into that space with so much like, uh, I think just enthusiasm and support and we’re like, yeah, do your thing. And that was such a gift, not only just the moment itself, but I think for us to then consider what yeah, what, what is a live performance for us?  How do we want to interact with people that don’t, wouldn’t know dance or wouldn’t necessarily yeah know who we are. So, Mmm. I dunno. yeah. I really love this moment is a part of our path in the sense of, again, widening and expanding what seaweed, where seaweed can show up, you know. Um, so that was, yeah, send you gifts. So shout out to the Lucious ladies, 

Oh, I love big love and, and huge honor. Right. It was very cool. Usually dance and music when they’re together is dance in support of music and in the form of like backup dancers on a concert tour or something like that. Yeah. But we were on the marquee. We had, we were billed as like, you know, the opening act and I remember that being huge as well. I’d never seen that. 

And guys, we, we continued on with them. We did two tours with them. Like on the bus, sleeping in the bunks, going to beautiful venues. Uh, and Opening Newport Folk Fest. We did, yes. 

That’s where we got these. 

That’s right. That’s where we got our blouses Thank you. Wrangler for our customers. Seaweed capes, they are in, I do feel that I have super powers when I wear this thing. Great. 

And I wish I could remember. It’s a company that does all the embroidery shoot. Maybe we can look it up, insert later. I forget what it was they were, they are the ones that made it personalized. 

We’ll add it to the show notes, be on the lookout show notes. Um, okay. This is, that was a beautiful walk through kind of a And of course the seaweed sisters had big plans for it. 2020, the month of April was deemed seaweed month. Yep. And then the month of April was slapped in the face by COVID-19  we are all three keeping to the social distancing.  

Mmm. And I’m proud of us high five across the screen. This was an awesome day. I woke up and my husband was like “Babe, Babe it’s working. “And he showed me this graph that was like what models had projected, um, the reported cases and deaths to be and what they actually are right now. And it’s really looking like this huge social distancing effort, at least in the California area. Is working. So I think that’s super cool. 

So that was a lovely walk through the life of the seaweed sisters up to this point. Yeah. And there is certainly much more to it to come. Obviously we period. But now I want to ask, what is, what is seaweed sisters in 10 years, 

That’s even harder than, what is he, what sisters now. 

Seaweed is a, is a, a live show. Uh, a short film series a animated adventure, 

A travel series, a children’s show. series. Series regulars on the Sesame street. 

Yeah. I’m an elderweeds puppet experience. Shout out Katie. Katie green. Yup. 

Oh man. A feature film. Why not? Let’s throw that out. Okay, excellent. Yeah. Um, Oh and there is also another thing I didn’t mention as far as our identity goes. Uh, on the subject of otherness, we do not speak this language. Um, we speak and other language and I think it’s called seaweed, is that correct? Except to, uh, and it is an improvised language. It doesn’t have a vocabulary or a dictionary or grammar.  Just sounds. Um, and we also are coming upon our names, our characters names. And I do want to talk about this for a second cause it’s a fun story. Um, I, an unexpected treat that came as a result of us doing this work is that we have now a lot of young fans out there. We’ve established relationships with some young people. And by young I mean like five years old, three, three to seven have somehow struck a chord unintentionally. Like we didn’t design our work to be that. But somehow, you know, we started hearing from, um, parents in our world saying, I literally use the seaweed sisters as the carrot and stick of my parenting. Like when the kid is good, they get to watch seaweeds sisters. And if they’re bad, they don’t get to watch seaweeds sisters. And like they’re, it’s, it’s hard to rip them from the screen when they’re watching you guys.  And that’s such an honor and a treat to hear that. But also I think I find that there’s a like-mindedness to a five year old to a seaweed sister and, um, I, I got my name, my seaweed sister name, which is Zaggy. Yep. Uh, from Megan’s niece, 

Sadie. But she’s been, she knew the pink is Megan and Dana is the blue and Jilly is the green one day, uh, her mom Poppy was asking her again, just okay, and who’s that? That’s auntie Megan and who’s that? And she said, that’s Zaggy she just said “What” She said that’s Zaggy and we went, we went with it. I was no, Julian was still Jillian. Dana became Zaggy that day. 

I feel like it’s also kind of like, in a way, I think, uh, B-Boy culture, you can’t decide your own name, you kind of have to be gifted it or given it. Also learn same in sign language. Like you have a sign name, something that is only particular to, you know, uh, being able to sign it not audibly say it and it has to be given to you. Same thing. So yeah. Oh, so we’re getting there. Look at you lucky listeners. You get to find us at this cool fork in the road where we’ve been doing stuff for six years and still don’t know our names.  

I, I so look forward to seeing future weeds and I’m so grateful for present weeds. Thank you so much for  uh, for all of it. Um, but also for being here and sharing some of the super special thing.  

We love your Willsy. 

Thank you Dana for doing this podcast and making a space for all kinds of thoughts and people to share.  

You better believe it. My pleasure. I won’t stop for at least a year. That’s my promise to myself and I’m pretty good at those.  

You can do it. You are very good at.  

Thank you. It is. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I love you and I’m going to keep my Cape on.  

Yeah guys, well done. Love you Dane. Love you so much. 

I love you. You’re the best weeds on the planet. Okay, bye. Bye.  

And how was that for your daily dose of love and laughter? I wanted to jump out and check in with you and also leave you with a task. But first I did a little digging and I was able to rediscover the custom embroidery company that, that did our denim blouses. They’re called Fort Lonesome. And they do exquisite work. So thank you Fort Lonesome. Shout out. And also we left off an important helping helper from our rather important shoot. And her name is Gina Menchino. Thank you so much Gina for your help. I’m sorry that we got sidetracked before we mentioned your name in the episode. You’re so great. Thank you so much. Um, okay, cool. Now let me leave you with this task. One of my favorite things that came up during this episode was this idea of see something, say something. And of course that’s S E A something, say something. It’s very on-brand. So clearly the seaweed sisters are a nurturing bunch and I think that that’s served us well. And I think that in times like these, a little nurturing could do everybody some good. So I would like to task you with the task of thinking of an artist or a group of artists whose work you adore and admire and then shout them out or call them up better yet blasts in any way, shape or form that you choose and let them know that they’re special. Let them know that their work is making your world a better place. That is what it’s all about after all making the best of this world that we’ve got. So get out there and do it. Get it out of there and keep it funky. Thanks for listening everybody. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Thought you we’re done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, the Dana wilson.com/podcast finally, and most importantly now you have a way to become a words that move me the member, so kickball, change over to patrion.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. #13 “Winning Even When You’re Down” with Tiler Peck

Ep. #13 “Winning Even When You’re Down” with Tiler Peck

 
 
00:00 / 00:43:34
 
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Tiler Peck, principal ballerina with New York City Ballet talks training, streaming class on socials, and finding herself AND HER STRENGTH thanks to the most challenging time of her life.
This episode is all about flipping the question: “Why is this happening to me” into “How is this happening for me?” and THAT is a winning mindset.

Show Notes

Quick Links:

Tiler Peck: https://www.instagram.com/tilerpeck/?hl=en

New York Times Article: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/13/arts/dance/tiler-peck.html

Words That Move Me Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/WTMMPodcast

Transcript:

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

Dana: Hey everybody, and welcome to the podcast. I am so excited that you’re here. I am very excited about this episode and I’m very excited to try something new for the beginning of every episode. Um, yeah, I think I’m gonna make a new habit. Tell me if you love it. Tell me if you hate it. I actually mean that. I want you to give me the feedback. So, uh, send me a message at words that move me podcast or we could do a little callback from episode seven and you can toe vote. Toe voting is a game nay an art form that my husband invented and I talked about in episode seven. I use this game when I’m going through the airport, but you can use it right now or all the time. Toe voting is, um, when you silently and invisibly vote in favor or against, um, someone’s choices or behavior out there in the world. It is silent. It is invisible. It is just for you. But, uh, the toe vote works like this. Your little toes and your shoes will respond either by jumping up and down and approval or frowning and digging themselves into the floor. That’s what a toe vote is. Um, we’re back. My new top of the cast habit is called wins. Now, I did not invent the concept of starting with wins. Actually, I became familiar with this concept. Thanks to my acting teacher, Gary Imhoff who teaches the professional artists workshop here in Los Angeles. Cannot say enough great things about Gary. But, um, it’s been awhile since I took an acting class. It’s been awhile since I did wins and I cannot think of a better time to, uh, remind ourselves of the things that are going well then this very moment. So here is how wins works. I’ll go ahead and start.  

All right. I’m actually busier than I have ever been, which is ironic because I’m a person whose work almost exclusively depends on large groups of people. Um, but I’m getting to do a lot of things that I’ve always wanted to do. Number one, train more. It seems like a lot of people are offering Instagram live or otherwise livestreams classes. I think it’s so much fun. It’s very cool. Um, another win, I actually added curtains to my dance space, um, which required a sewing machine and a power drill, which usually gives me the nervous fields. Um, but because I had to use it for like an hour, I got really solid. I’m much more confident with my power tool skills right now than I was, uh, a week or so ago. Um, let’s see, what else. Oh, also upgraded the Ram on my computer. Did that myself as well. Um, I also started a Patreon account for the podcast and it feel really, really good about this is the first time ever that I have opened up a membership option for any of my services.  And I think it’s very cool. It’s uh, a way for you to get even more value out of this exchange and it’s a way for you to help me by keeping the lights on the disco ball as it were. Uh, speaking of disco ball, I made one out of aluminum foil. It’s hanging in my dance space, so that’s also definitely a win. Um, okay. I think that’s great. That’s a really good start on wins for me. And now it is your turn to go. A win is just an answer to the question. What went well and I really am, I’m going to leave a gap here for you to fill in that blank on your Mark. Get set, go. 

Maybe I’ll play a little music for you so that it’s not as awkward.  

Okay, great. I’m not just saying that wins are important because we’re having a tough patch. Is that safe to say? We’re, this isn’t the a high point of civilization. We’re not at our pinnacle right now. This isn’t our best performance, I would say. But I’m also saying it’s not all destroyed. I’m saying the sun comes up and the sun sets and we wake up and we go to sleep and somewhere something went well. So let’s share it for ourselves at very least to ourselves. But even to someone else, I think it’d be a good practice to start a wins group. This is my wins group. Thank you for joining me. Speaking of winning, I see you daily doers out there and I honestly am so inspired. I am. I, it’s always a treat to see what you guys are daily doing. If you are new to the podcast, please circle back to episode one and have a listen as I pose a daily creative challenge to all of you out there. I think this is a perfect time for it. I think oftentimes great restraint breeds great choreography that too. Um, but great restraints can cause great creativity. So please keep it up. Um, keep tagging your videos with the hashtag doing daily. WT M M the doing is the important part. So it comes first hashtag #doingdailyWTMM go take a look at that hashtag as well. You’re going to find some super treats. Um, okay. Moving right along. I am thrilled about this episode. Um, I had a conversation with a good friend of mine, Tiler Peck, principal ballerina for New York city ballet and all of the things she had to say I find so applicable and so valuable in a time like this. She talks about injury, she talks about training, she talks about family, she talks about the most challenging time of her life and she talks about finding herself and her strength within it. So without any further ado, enjoy this conversation with Tiler Peck.  

Dana: Yes! Tiler, thank you so much for being here first and foremost today. It is a special time. It is a crazy time. Mmm. And it’s just very cool to see your face and hear your voice  

Tiler: Thanks for having me.  

Dana: Let’s start with having you introduce yourself. How do you like to introduce yourself?  

Tiler: All right. Now let me just say I’m Tyler Peck and I’m in principal ballerina with New York city ballet. 

And that is enough, my lady. Um, okay, cool. So you and I actually in years, years passed our timelines, our dance timelines overlapped when we were little NYCDA competition kid. Um, and I find something very interesting is very few of those Danclings pursue classical ballet and even fewer wind up in soloists roles and fewer still in principal roles. I think that speaks so much to your training but also to your talent and your drive. And I want to spend some time talking about that. So could you talk a little bit about your pre-professional training and uh, even before you and I met  maybe a little bit during that timeline and then before going to the company,  

Of course, I think that I am just as shocked that I became a ballerina’s probably like anybody else. I know Joe actually, Joe Lanteri always says like, I mean she can do ballet, but if you ever saw her do like jazz, then you would really see it. It’s the truth. I never thought I’d be a ballerina. I grew up first in my mom’s school in Bakersfield, California, and you know, her, her dance school, it has every style. So I grew up doing jazz. I was really bad at tap, so I can’t say that I ever really was good at that. But, um, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, hip hop, gym, you know, everything. I did everything and I did take privates. She did have me take, um, ballet privates with this, um, Russian teacher who actually is from California. Her name is Alla i and I believe the last name is Khaniashvil or something like, and she was a former principal, the Bolshoi ballet and they were my least favorite classes. Not because she wasn’t a good teacher. It just took the most discipline. Like I think ballet, when you’re younger it’s really hard because it takes the most focus just because you don’t get to dance to feel good music, you know, like a song that you love or a word that you can like relate to. It’s like classical music is sometimes honestly a little boring and especially when you’re younger. So I’d always try to get out of my ballet classes. I tell him I’m, Oh, I think when they feel sick today, I don’t think I should do ballet.  And she’d be like, okay, well then if you’re sick for ballet, you’re also sick for jazz. And I would say, Oh, I think, I think I’m feeling better. I think I’m better now. So I’m glad that made me stick with it. Cause clearly I wouldn’t have made it as far in the ballet company. But, um, what took me to New York was getting the Music Man on Broadway and Mmm, that was just because, you know, in California, I, I did lots of commercials and like more commercial dance and theater. And so when my agency, um, sent me to New York to audition, my mom was like, we’re not going in New York. And I said, mom, let’s just go. And she goes, okay, we’ll just make it a fun trip. No pressure. You know? And I ended up getting it. And then she was like, you’re definitely not moving to New York. And I said, but mom, what if I never get this opportunity ever again, and you, you didn’t let me go. And she was like..

Ooooh! The guilt trip! 

I know. And I was only 11! Yeah. So that was kind of what made me go to New York. And then from there I started taking at the school of American ballet, which is the company that feeds into the New York city ballet. And that was the first time where I ever felt like, wow, ballet is actually really interesting. And I think it was the Balanchine like technique style that I really, really love because it is a little bit jazzier and you know, all of a sudden didn’t seem so boring. And I was like, I also didn’t feel like I was really good at it. Like I felt like I looked like a jazz dancer trying to do ballet and I was like determined to not be that one that they were like, Oh, she’s just from the jazz world. You know? I was like, no, I’m going to get this. Then it’d be a ballerina.   And I’ve always kind of been like that. Like, where if something isn’t easy, that’s like the route I go, I’m like, you know what, I’m going to do this and I’m going to be a ballerina. And that’s kind of what happened. 

I love this. It’s actually one of my questions later down the, the stream that it was going to ask it, has it always been ballet and will it always be ballet? So now I know it hasn’t always been, but do you see like what is future Tiler? Is she like a tango dancer or ballroom or is she strictly choreography? Do you, do you think about her a lot? 

I mean, I love ballroom actually. Like I don’t know it, but I Mmm. It was on a gig once. Then this ballroom dancer like took me on the dance floor just at the after party and I was like, this is literally the coolest thing ever. Like he made me feel like I’d been taking ballroom forever, but I don’t think that that’s going to be my route. Um, but no, I definitely want to always other things. I, I don’t think I want to do, um, ballet for a very long time. I thought this is when I should do this because it’s such a young career. So I got into the company at 15  and you know, I’ve already been in the company 16 years. I’m 31 and I’ve never really wanted to be someone like in my mid forties still in point shoes. I always kind of want to leave when I can still do everything in such a classical company. But then I would love to do like, you know, theater or choreograph or something like that and move back into  you know, not doing just classical ballet. Um, but I just felt like this was the time for me to do it. If I was going to do ballet, I was going to pursue ballet this was the time. 

Got it. But you do also pursue these other avenues even now, a little bit of acting, a little bit of choreographing. Um, do you want to talk about any of those?  

Yeah, I mean, I think because I did grow up in California and you know, I did do a lot of acting and stuff like the story ballets at New York city ballet the most for me just because you get to tell a story, we don’t use your voice. But, um, that’s why when Susan’s Stroman like talks to me about doing this new musical that’s coming out, um, to be the lead and that I’ve kind of been a part of for like 10 years. Um, it was kind of the perfect thing for me because it has ballet, it’s about a ballerina. I get to carry this show, so I’m have to. Mmm. Basically I’m on stage for two and a half hours singing, acting and dancing. So it’s like, it was like such a challenge for me and I was like, I haven’t used my voice and like 10 years, but let’s try it, you know? Yeah. And also when I just got through this injury, I use that as a lot of time to do other things like choreograph and you know, do a few acting. Mmm. Acting jobs on TV shows and things. So it was a good time to make my mind. It was like a forced time to, to do everything you love because I had the time and I love it. Mmm. With my New York city ballet crazy schedule.  

Cool. That is a, I think an excellent segue. I couldn’t have written that myself. I’m talk about being forced into certain things or away from certain things. Um, I would love to talk to you more about  the type of training that you’re used to and how different your life is now that we are in, um, I’m going to use the word lockdown. It’s not technically a lock down, at least here in California. We’re both in California right now. So I guess what I’m asking is what is the importance of training to you? And if you could actually be interesting to hear a day in the life of principal ballerina, how much of that is training, how much of that is performing and what are you doing right now when we don’t have that, or our traditional flow. 

Yeah. So every day we work every day, but Monday just kind of like Broadway schedules. Um, but we’re training all day. It’s not like a Broadway show where one gets up, You’re just performing at night. Mmm. We start class at 10 30. They have class every day for an hour when we’re in season and then they can rehearse us from 11:30 to 6:00 and then they show at 8:00. We do that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday we had two shows on Saturday. And then on Sunday we have class at 10:30 they can rehearse us It’s for like three hours and then the matinee. So it’s crazy. Yeah. By the time you get to the show, a lot of times you say to yourself, I’m so tired. I literally don’t know what’s going to happen right now. Sometimes that’s when you do your best performances because you don’t have the nerve because you just don’t have the energy for them and you just, you know, so grounded. But yeah, so I’m used to dancing all day long and um, right now in order to, to keep that up, I’ve been taking class every day. You know, my mom has a dance studio, so it’d be really easy for me just to go down there.  But Mmm. You know, I’ve been listening also to what they’re saying, like stay at home and she shut her studio. And so I’ve just been doing classes in my mom’s kitchen and using her kitchen countertop as my bar. And I just thought, you know, I’m going to do this every single day for myself because I have to keep my training up. So I thought, why don’t I open it up and let people take with me on Instagram live. And I did it the first day and I was like, you know, let’s just see if anybody liked it. Then it seems like a really big thing and everybody’s really looking forward to it, I think during the day. So I thought, you know, if I’m going to keep up my training, I might as well let everybody do it with me because I’m sure so many people are missing being in their dance studios.  And it’s hard to get motivated when you’re just doing it by yourself. I mean I just came off of a huge injury where I was off for six months and I couldn’t do anything. And then it took me, you know, like another probably three months to get back and I had to do class every single day and I did it with a teacher because I needed somebody to be motivating me. And so that’s what I thought is like if I do these live classes, at least somebody can. I can be, you know, I could be leading the class and trying to motivate these people to keep moving so they’re not having to do it by themselves. Cause that’s hard.  

It is. It’s so hard. Yeah,  

It’s keeping me accountable too. I feel like because if I were doing it myself maybe it would skip combinations or do it at different times or, and this is like, no, it’s an hour every single day or Monday through Saturdays. 

People show up  for class.  

Yes, people show up. So  

I took, I’ve taken a couple, um, I was there, I think I was there on day one. I’m not sure if I was there.  

You were there day one! 

I was a day one or I have not been in everyday or a more a more often dayer or I think finding some sort of normalcy in a day is valuable. Um, but I love the normalcy. I love the sharing and I love the accountability. All of these things to me are what the internet has always been good at. Sharing information, finding solutions to urgent problems and connecting and we’re really, we’re using it for that.  

Yeah, it’s true.  

Dana: Okay. Tiler and I talked about the silver linings of this Corona virus crisis situation for quite a while, but I wanted to take a second and pop out to reflect on her training regimen and man! Hearing about the day that Tiler goes through. Made me want to up my training regimen. That is for sure and actually reminded me of episode 9 when I spoke with Jason Bonner who says if your show is two hours long then you’re training for three or in Tiler’s case if your show is two hours long, you’re training for the remaining eight hours. Hearing about this honestly made me want to up my game and it reminded me of a saying, you will not rise to the occasion. You will fall to your level of training, so train up everybody train up, now is a perfect time. 

We’re going to jump back and talk a little bit more about training with Tiler, but we’re also going to talk about the injury that put her through the most challenging time of her life. Tiler wasn’t just unable to dance or train. She was unable to execute normal daily tasks like turning her head or lifting her arm for five months.  To get even more backstory about that injury and her road to recovery. I strongly recommend you read the New York times article called Am I more than just a dancer? I will link to it on the website, theDanaWilson.com/podcast under this episode, which is episode 13 but I’m also just Google the New York times and Tiler Peck and you will probably find it. Am I more than just a Dancer? Fabulous read. Okay, let’s jump back in. 

Dana: Okay, so if you went five months, we can definitely do several weeks. My question for you is this, how does one go from five months of not even doing normal range of human motion stuff? To Sugarplum. Was that your first performance back?  

Tiler: Yeah, it was sugarplum because I did everything with every other part of my body that I could work out, so like I couldn’t ride a bicycle because they’ve thought that was too much. 

Dana: This was a neck injury right? 

Yeah, a herniated disc in my C-5-6 which is the neck and mine was so severe that it was touching my spinal cord and we all know that like that’s not good. So I had to wait and I was told I would like never dance or could be paralyzed if I was walking and got slightly pushed. I mean I went through a roundabout. Mmm, very scary time. But I had this one physical therapist who just, I like literally trust my life, who’s the New York city ballet doc therapist. And she just kept saying, I don’t know, I just don’t feel like you need the surgery like they’re saying. And we just kept searching and searching. But she, I met with her every single day and we just did like cranial sacral work and I met with an energy healer. And so we were healing my body kind of from like the inside out, you know, she made me wear my point shoes around the house every single day so that my toes and my feet would be strong. And then we actually started, she made me keep my bottom half working. You know, I’d do relevés me and my point shoes, I do a little moving. I just wouldn’t move my arm or my neck. So yeah. So she was really smart with the way that she brought me back and I really don’t know what I would’ve done without her. And um, Rob, who’s the energy healer. But yeah, it was all about finding what, how I could stay in shape without doing anything to hurt my neck so that it could heal.  

Right. The healing is so, so, so important. Um, what did you learn about yourself during that period while you were know..

Yeah. I mean the energy healer is an hour and a half session that I did every single Wednesday and 45 minutes of that hour is just talking. And so you start to learn a lot about yourself, about where your stresses are in life, where you want to get better. You know, your, your weaknesses, your tendencies and it’s kind of like you begin to heal yourself. Is what he’s there for, to kind of help you heal yourself. And I learned so much about myself. I learned, you know, that I’ve always wanted, I’ve always, and like a very empathetic person where I, I really not a people pleaser, but I really don’t like when anybody’s upset at me or I really feel when somebody’s going through something and kind of what I learned with this is that I had to sort of,  not distance myself but still have those feelings, but realize how much of that I was going to allow to be my energy of the day. You know? Like I could still have those feelings, but at the end of the day I needed to be able to stand up for what I believed in. Somebody you know, um, didn’t like something or got their feelings hurt like I’ve learned now that like I just now tell them like honestly, like, I’m really sorry if that happened that’s so not what I thought this is, you know? And it makes me feel so much better because I’m being true to myself. And also I feel like when you do tell the truth and get it forward, the problem just goes away that much faster. So I think, I think in this whole thing, I just kind of learned how to be a little bit more Mmm. Like real with myself and my own feelings. And I think that in the end that kind of like also helped the healing.  

Oh, okay. Would you say that that might’ve been like the brighter light at the end of the tunnel? Like you maybe went into this injury being injured in another area and then this injury somehow wound up healing both. 

Of course. Actually the first day he always reminds me that when I went in I said, you know, I had a back injury. You know, my body has been pretty good to me for as long as I’ve been dancing. And the only other injury I had was a back thing when I was 18 and I felt like from that injury, what I said in our first meeting was I came back such like more of an artist, like I was more mature, I was able to be more vulnerable. And I said, you know, I’m wondering what this one is going to bring, you know? And Mmm. The other day I said to him, I was like, I really just feel like I’m a different person. Like a better version of myself and I’m able to say what I feel a little bit more and not keep it so bottled up and I just feel like I’m more open and I was always warm, but I feel like I’m able to receive things a little bit easier now.  

Oh, I love this phrase. What will this bring to me? Like even an injury, I think, you know, I, I struggle with patellar tendonitis in my knees and when I have that pain or when I’m going through, even when I’m training, like when I’m doing PT, my thoughts are like, ah, I don’t have good knees. I don’t ha, I’m like, I’m without good knees. Instead of thinking, what will this like, how is this actually an active  experience instead of how is this taking away from something that I think should be fine and working perfectly with what we do? Are you kidding? Of course knees will be wonky and backs will be out in all the things like, Oh man, what we do is unnatural. So it makes sense that we experience unnatural pain at times. And I really love that thought. What, what will this bring me? And I love what it brought you, this sense of self, um,  and this idea that you can still be  empathetic and a person that’s warm and a person that cares without carrying all of that. 

Yeah. And I think I also just um, yeah, I kept worrying like, Oh my gosh, when I come back everybody is going like be judging me and what am I not going to move my neck the same way? And I finally came the conclusion. I was like, I am a different dancer. It’s okay. I’m going to be a different ballerina. But like that doesn’t mean that it’s the wrong kind. Like I’m going to be a different, Tiler and I might have to do you think a little bit differently and be a little bit smarter when it comes to the way I move my neck. But I’m going to enjoy it and love it that much more for being out there again, when they told me I would never be, and at the same time like maybe it’s going to bring a different and better quality to my dancing.  

And do you think it has?  

I do think it has even, it’s funny. It’s like I did full length Swan Lake. I mean literally they told me and I was never going to dance and then we just had this season and I did full length Swan Lake and like I got there and I said, I’m on. I was like, I didn’t just get through it like I was DANCING, I did it, I was moving. But yeah, you know, I did. I did. There were things I couldn’t do. Like I can’t jump every day because it’s bad for the my neck still. So I would really waited to do it till the show to do all of my jumps. That was the first time I did everything and I got through it. But you know, there are things now that I just have to deal with and it’s okay, you know? But yeah, I do think it is. And sometimes I think, Oh, might not look that good. And then I watch a video and I’m like, Oh, I’m moving my body. I’m moving my neck. Not so bad.  

Yes. I love that. We can’t go back. Like you won’t be the Tiler that was Tiler before you hurt your neck or your back, but you might be better. So keep going. You must go through that like cause it, it could truly be better on the other side.  

Yeah. I just kept getting stuck and then I was like, why am I so concerned about that? Like I’m just going to be the different Tiler and I’m going to be happy in that.

Oh, that’s so great. I am definitely happy when I watch this Tiler previous Tiler also was, but watching you dance, especially lately, even just watching you teaching your class, there is a sense of Mmm. Freedom and joy that I’m just like, even in a routine task, like a, uh, you know, rond de jambs we’re just doing the rond de jambs. We’re checking to make sure that all of the all of the things and all the gears and all the nuts and all the bolts are working. But it looks somehow liberating freeing and fun. And it’s incredible to watch. It’s been very fun taking class with you. I would have never for the record, um, walked into a studio in New York and taking class with you. Cause it’s all the things that we hold in our heads, but like who does the thing so, so, so good. Um, and then to put yourself in the room next to them, it can be very, uh, intense.  So there is a lot of, from the comfort of your own home happening right now. And I hope that a lot of people will progress and find, Mmm. A foothold into a world that maybe they might have otherwise been too afraid to step into. Mmm. Yeah. I, I don’t mean to say that I’m afraid of ballet. Um, it’s certainly not been my favorite style. I remember being competition kid crying, actually hot tears down my face during Adagio and I probably still would if I really got into a tough one. 

Isn’t it funny! Adagio has always been my favorite and I, and I think it’s the thing, kind of the worst at. 

No, that makes sense actually to your lean in personality. Like I didn’t just want to become an okay ballerina. That was okay. Taking class with ballerinas. No, I’m going to be the principal ballerina from injuries dancing, full swan lakes.

You know, it’s been so great with these classes. It’s like, I think because it’s like at a certain time every day, you know, that people really build in their lives. I wouldn’t get to teach half of these people, if I were going around studios or something, I would never reach the people that I’m able to. Yeah. I think yesterday like, or 15,000 people were taking class.  

Its amazing! Yeah. Any knowledge that I have passed it on to them and the one hour a day at 10, you know, Pacific standard time or whatever. That’s so exciting. 

Right. There’s not, uh, uh, uh, a classroom big enough to have that ballet class. The only a place that we could do that is on the internet is incredible. I’m so glad that we’re using it for the for good. Um, but that does beg the question. Um, is there a downside of this social media training stuff? 

I do think and what I’ve noticed, cause I’m asking people to like hashtag turnout Tyler’s that I can see, see the videos because I don’t like the one thing I don’t like is not being able to see the people that I’m teaching, because, and it was really good for me because now they’re all sending the video, then I’ll like send them back corrections. But I also seen, um, the variety of people taking the class. So then I realized three days into like, I need to be making a beginner combination and an advanced one for every single um, combination because I don’t want the little ones that aren’t up to the advanced level to be trying to do something that their bodies are not ready for. You know? And so that’s, that’s the one thing if you were like super hands on, right? Yeah. What the, what your students are ready or not ready for throwing a class out that you would want to take and it might not be a great thing for everybody.  Yeah. That’s, yeah. So that’s why I’m like, make sure and send your videos. And then like today, a little girl sent it and I was like, that’s not a high enough passe. And then she’s in another video or photo back then I was like, that’s right. You know, because I do think it’s important that they’re not just taking these classes and doing their technique wrong, you know, so, so that’s the one downside I think. 

Cool. I appreciate that. I love that. Um, okay. Speaking of downsides, um, what do you consider to be downtime? Like is this downtime, are you working? What’s your attitude about downtime? Do you have it between acting, choreographing, a clothing line, being a ballerina? Like does that exist for you or what’s your, what’s your, what are your thoughts around downtime? 

Okay. Anybody who knows me really well would probably laugh because they’re like, you don’t know how to have downtime, but I will tell you, I do love sitting in front of the TV and watching movies. And last night my family, we all watch together, dirty dancing, all six feet apart and it was just something I grew up watching and it was so amazing and my dad got so excited. My dad was like,  I think we should all pick our favorite movie. He was like, cool, I want on the phone and he went into the other room and he brought back like ghost, sister act and something else. I was like, dad, yes. I could just tell. This is the first time I’ve been dancing I guess professionally since I was like six. I think that’s when I had my first commercial and honestly I’ve been home now I think for eight days and it’s the first time I’ve ever been with my family. Like today, we went on our first walk together and I said, as we were walking, I was like, I’m pretty sure this is the first walk we’ve ever taken as a family. And they were like, for sure, because when I was younger, my grandmother drove me three hours to take class at Studio C with Dee and Tina and Dennis Casberry three hours there and hours back from age. Um, I think like seven to 11. So this is the most family time I’ve ever had. And so that is what I’m really enjoying and I’m trying to be like, okay, I need to get off the phone now and really just enjoy this time that I have because when would I be able to be here that much? 

Right. This might be the other slight downside to the social streaming class thing is that if you have that many students in class and you’re encouraging the discourse right, the back and forth, which I do. Yeah, I think that’s very smart. Um, you could spend 24 hours a day giving feedback to all of those people in class and you wind up literally stuck to this thing. 

Yeah. I’m like, how am I busier now than normal? And it’s classes and interviews. Yeah, you know, but I said, I know the weekends, like I’m definitely not going to be on the phone and I really, really want to really just enjoy my time with my family at night. Okay, fine. I’ll let you go.  

Um, okay. Yes, and I so agree. I think this is a very valuable time, not just for self-work, but for those of us that are uh, lucky enough to be in it with the family, with the people actually like hands on in person stuff. Dad said to me, can we play monopoly? And I was like, you said yes three times in a row. Dad, um, 

Ps has great taste in movies, dad, I really love that. I think this will be the birth of great new rituals and well, we’ll remember things about this time that are truly special. I’m so glad about that. Definitely. All right. Well I do want you to get back to family time. Thank you so much for sharing this time with me. I learned a lot and smiled constantly.  

Oh, I’ll see you. Hopefully soon. Not sure how summer in summer intensives are gonna work out. Um, we might have a long, Mmm. A long haul ahead of us, but perhaps a reschedule or a same schedule for your event this summer. Do you want to talk about it a little bit? 

It’s my first summer course and basically I just had this idea because I love teaching. Obviously you can tell, but I, especially if for ballet I feel like the ballerinas don’t always get a range of movement. And I think that is what it really helped me be a different kind of a ballerina. And so I kind of wanted to be how I was brought up and I wanted these dancers to get that type of training. I want them to have hip hop or funk or whatevr you want to call it. And I want him to be able have jazz. And what’s funny is like, honestly, the teachers that are teaching this intercourse are either people I grew up dancing with like you or the teachers that taught me. So I’m like, it really is like, um, like Marguerite and Alex and people. I used to take classes from that I love and Mmm. So hopefully it will, all of this will pass and if not, we’ll figure out something. I don’t know. Maybe it will do zoom classes or something, but  

Hey, we will get creative. That is what this time calls for lots of creativity.  All right, Tiler thank you so much again. I will talk to you very soon.  

Okay, bye.  

Dana: Oh right. Talk about a myth. Oh, a meaning wind set. Talk about a meaning wind set. Everybody talk about a winning mindset rather. Jeez. Winning on winning, on winning. I really love the way that Tiler thinks about emerging different, not wrong or not worse from her injury. It honestly reminds me of episode eight and talking about doing it bright instead of doing it right. Finding the value in doing it your way and that whatever your way is is the best way for you to do it. I especially love how Tiler reframed her thoughts around the injury from being the victim to being the beneficiary. She literally went from thinking, why is this happening to me? Or why is this happening at all to how is this happening for me? What could this bring to me? And that’s something I think we could all use a little practice working on right now.  So let’s get to work. Grab a pen, grab a piece of paper and think of a topic, a circumstance. Maybe it’s the Corona virus, maybe it’s lock-down, maybe it’s training at home. Now dump all of your thoughts about that topic onto the page. But first split the page, hot dog style. On the left, we’re going to keep all of our negative, dark, nasty, big, ugly thoughts. We’ll call it big ugly column. And then on the right we’ll put all the positive captain brightside, we’ll call it the bright and beauty column. Now for every negative thought, I want you to write two positive ones. Since our brains are wired to care about disease and danger to keep us alive, this might be challenging. So I’ll help you by giving a couple examples. 

Big, ugly thought. People are dying. This is true. Bright beauty thought. People are coming together. People are caring for each other. People are fighting to keep each other alive.  

Let’s take another big ugly thought. Um, I could get sick. I could die. Bright beauty thought, let’s go with the obvious one. You could also not get sick. You could live to be a hundred. It’s a possibility. Uh, let’s do one more big, ugly thought. Um, I’m going to lose my job and run out of money. Bright beauty thought I cannot lose my talent and I will not lose my training. Prepared with those things and my bright mind, I can make more money. Notice I’m not encouraging you to delete or resist big uglies. They are worthy of your attention and they are valid, especially right now. I guess I’m simply encouraging you to spend equal air time on the bright beauties, the winning thoughts, if you will. I will leave you with that for today, and also I will leave you with my new tagline. Stay safe, stay soapy and stay funky. 

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

Ep #9. 3 Words That Changed My (Dance) Life with Jason Bonner

Ep #9. 3 Words That Changed My (Dance) Life with Jason Bonner

 
 
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Episode 9 will leave you feeling fine. Personal trainer to the stars, Jason Bonner is on the podcast to talk motivation and excellence.  These words will help you take your work to the next level whether you’re in the gym, in the studio, on screen, or on stage.  Warning, you may leave this episode feeling very VERY motivated to make things happen.

Show Notes:

Enter our instagram contest!

https://instagram.com/wordsthatmovemepodcast?igshid=ctagczvve4kf

Transcript:

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

Dana:  Hello, hello friends. Welcome to the podcast. We’ll come back if you’re a recurring listener and welcome, welcome for the first time. If this is your first time listening, I’m stoked to be talking to you today. I’m very excited about this episode, but before I get into that I want to talk about something else that I am very excited about and that is the Instagram contest that we are having right now. We definitely are wanting to spread the words that move me and make sure as many people find the podcast as possible. So to do that we’re having an Instagram contest and I would like for you to take a look at all the details @wordsthatmovemepodcast on Instagram. It’s in our story. It has a special little album there. I think I’m using the right words all of a sudden I am not the master of Instagram anymore. I’m learning and I’m right there with some of you as I learn. Anyways, I’m very excited about the contest in order to see all the terms and the ways that you can win and also the things that you might win. Make sure you follow us on Instagram. That’s going to be the best way.. Well it’s the only way to be a part of the contest. Um, and it’s the best way to make sure that you are playing by the rules. Although occasionally I do recommend breaking them. Okay. So in addition to the contest, I also want to clear up a few things. Cause the other day I ran into a human being, an actual human in the flesh and she was like, Oh my gosh, I’m doing the daily challenge and I absolutely love it. I was like, that’s great. What’s your handle? And she told me her name, she told me her handle and I didn’t recognize it. I was like, I don’t think I’ve seen your project out there. And then through a little bit more digging, we discovered that she had been hashtagging “daily doing” instead of hashtagging “doing daily” And honestly you guys, I think I’ve probably said it both ways from the start of the podcast until now and this is something that is definitely worth a little clarification and carving out a special place for this. I want to see your daily projects.  

So I have decided to create a special hashtag, a bucket that we can put all of those beautiful things and that is #doingdailyWTMM as in words that move me. So if you are a daily doer, which is confusing cause I do say that a lot. If you’re a daily doer then you are hashtag doing daily. Yes. It feels really good to have that cleared up. Excellent. If you have no idea what I’m talking about right now, that is probably because you haven’t listened to episode one or episode two where I pose the challenge to all of my listeners to take on a daily creative act every single day. For some amount of time, preferably an amount that’s slightly longer than what you feel comfortable taking on. I promised myself I would make a video every single day for 365 days and I did it plus some. It changed my life. And I know that a project like this can change yours. So jump on over to episode one and two after listening to this episode and happy making, I’m so excited for you and for the ways that this can change your life. Hats off to all of my daily doers. Keep the hashtag doing daily. This is how I remember it by the way, hashtag doing because the doing is the important part. #doingdailyWTMM now let’s get into it. 

I’m stoked about today’s episode because I got a chance to catch up with one of my favorite people, Jason Bonner. Jason and I met when I was a dancer on tour with Justin Timberlake in 2007. So this was the, um, future sex love show tour. I was 20 years old. I turned 21 while we were on the road. Um, so I’m this tiny young danceling and this man who at the time was Justin’s personal trainer became my trainer as well and a very, very dear friend.  He’s one of the relationships that I made on that tour that has stood the test of time and is still um, a great friend and inspiration to me up until today. So I got to catch up with Jason and I have to be totally honest with you. We talked for over two hours and a lot of that talking is actually just cackling like words and sounds that you would need subtitles to understand. So I did edit this episode down into some really good digestible chunks of information and inspiration and I really hope that you dig it. Okay. Before we get into the words with Jason, I want to explain the being that is Jason, I want you to imagine a life scale GI Joe, like actual man sized GI Joe and then turn that up to X. Like, he probably isn’t, but it feels like Jason is eight feet tall and his like the circumference of his bicep is probably the circumference of my thigh at its widest.  You will probably hear in this interview him slamming his hands on the table and the microphone responds to that a little bit. So I do apologize. This is my first phone interview ever and I’m still learning a lot about that technology. So bear with me on the learning curve. Also, did I mention I am coming to today from my hotel, actually my hotel closet in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is where I am working right now. So I apologize if the sound is different or if there’s an occasional passer-by in the hallway, a door slam, a weird pipe sound. My pipes are making weird gargly sounds. I can’t explain it, but I think we’re safe. I don’t see any water anywhere, so I think we’re safe. Anyways, all sound aside. I’m very, very excited to share this conversation with Jason Bonner. So let’s dig in.  

Dana: Jason Bonner! I am so excited about this call. Really, truly, utterly. I can’t even handle it. Um. All right, so, the podcast, because it’s young and I want to tell you a little bit about the podcast and our listeners. Its primarily about creative careers and making art in entertainment. So some of my guests might be confused as to why I am speaking to personal trainer to the stars and I would tell them that is because you are much, much more than a personal trainer to the stars. So number one, please introduce yourself, all of your interests and all of the many different hats that you wear. 

Jason: How are you doing Dana?  My name is Jason Bonner, whether it’s training, whether it’s life coaching, whatever it is that I’m doing, I really love helping people. And through my friends in industry, the people that know me, they call me like the Jack of all trades because I really can do whatevers thrown at me. So I do everything from training to styling to image to branding for an artist, this is actually what I do. I kind of wear many different hats. I’ve done everything from A&R record to written on records before, as a writer. In it past eight months or so. I’ve uh, I started a management company. I have a two artists that I manage and a songwriter. And I wrote a film, with one of my best friends. About something that happened in my life, true story. It’s a comedy. So we’re in the process of getting that done now, so excited about it. The movie is basically like a mixture of Friday and Ferris Buller’s Day off. That’s the best way I can describe it. 

Dana: I want to live at the center circle of that Venn diagram that is exquisite.

Jason: I am, I’m beyond excited about it because it was something I didn’t really think about getting into. Oh. So it just happened. Mmm. The working out  on is really the easiest part of it. That’s like the easiest thing to do. Um, I work with, uh, Josh Groban, the a Joe Jonas, Frank Ocean, hit boy, Bruno Mars producer Rob Knox. This new kid. Aaron Wright, he’s amazing You hear about him soon? I worked in Luke James. Mmm.  Another producer named Monsour Producer Harvey Mason Jr before? I’m actually working with Chris Stapleton right now. Amazing guy. Flat out. Amazing. Mmm. I take it very seriously because I was on my way to be a pro athlete. Before, I got hurt. So I’m very competitive when it comes to what I do when I work with somebody in that capacity. Whether it’s training, whether its, branding whether it’s you know, conditioning for shows or whatever we’re doing. I’m really serious about it. And part of it is, you know, when you’re working with artists and people you’re close to, you kind of have to read them and understand the mannerisms. So part of why it worked so well with the people that I work with is because I studied their habits, I studied everything about them. So like, like for example, um, I’ve been working with Justin Timberlake since, the year 2000 so I pretty much know like the back of my hand. Like I can walk into a room and tell him, “you need something to eat or you need to go to sleep? Mmm. Anything. Literally anything.” 

It’s true. Jason is a great study of subtlety and human behavior in general and I think he gets a lot of that intel from movement specifically like posture, someone’s walk , their body language, their performance at the gym or their performance on stage. He could almost always tell if something was off, like if something wasn’t quite right and some of the time he could tell exactly what it was, whether it was not enough rest or too much rest occasionally or homesickness, relationship drama, family drama and by family drama I of course mean tour, family drama because when you eat, sleep, breathe, work and play together, that’s exactly what you become. You are family. So Jason’s eye for detail and like Olympic level people watching skills are what taught me that you don’t need to perform all the time. In fact, being a good audience member, being watchful that can help you do your job even better than all of the, all of the uh, exporting, right. Do a little importing. Just sit and watch. When I was on the road and training with Jason, his type of watchful felt a little bit like, um, like a law enforcement officer or like the way that a teacher watches over their classroom taking a test and they’re like looking to see if somebody is cheating or passing notes or something or a little bit like a referee watching a game like very, very closely. But I really think there’s more compassion to Jason’s style of watching. And actually one of my favorite things about becoming a people watcher thanks to him is that it helps me feel more compassionate towards others. And I like that. Okay. So now we’re going to talk a little bit more about my first tour and Jason’s style of quote, compassion, which is a special brand of no BS. Tough love.  

Okay. So I want to really quickly go back to the year that we met, which was, um, I believe it was 2007. The future sex love show tour. And I was a dancer and I assisted the creative director and choreographer, Marty Kudelka on that tour. I was 20 years old and I was green. And I remember meeting you and you, you make quite an oppression, quite an impression on a young lady, um, because you are so certainly who you are. And I remember at that time, I’m still figuring out who I am and I, um, I had these ideas about what a personal trainer to the stars was and you certainly look like that. Like you look like that guy. But I remember being very taken aback by how generous you are in giving your attention, your time, your talent. And I was very interested in getting healthier, getting more fit.  And I remember you, I remember thinking that a personal trainer was a certain thing and that I would have a whistle in my ear at 6:30 in the morning and you’d be a drill sergeant and you’d be like, banging down my door, get me to the gym. And you really weren’t that. So I would like to hear a little bit about how you encourage people into their own greatness without being a drill Sergeant and a heavy hand, even though you look tough. Mmm. And it was your voice in my head when I was like, no, get to the gym, get to the gym. But you only showed up for me when I showed up for myself. And I would love to hear more about why it is that you, why you operate that way. 

Hey Listen! This is the only thing in life. Only thing in life, no matter how much money you have, no matter how much you think you have,  that nobody else can do for you, right? You have to do it yourself. Like there’s, there’s no way around it you have to do this for yourself? So it’s one of those things where it’s like, listen, I could yell at you, I can scream at you, I could get mad at you, whatever did you face, whatever. It’s not going to matter if in your head you don’t want to do it. So I don’t care who you are. I can look somebody in the face and tell them you’re not serious. And there’ll be like, why is it because I know people, okay, who have that look that they want to change their lives. You don’t want to change your life? I say, so don’t ask me again or waste my time. Ask me something that you’re not serious about. So for me it’s like I don’t have the patience to deal with, with BS. So it’s just like you don’t take yourself serious. So why should I? Again, because I was a, you know, I was working on trying to be a professional basketball player. My drive for myself was very high. Right. So I learned how to channel into me, erm, at an early age, so when everybody else would be partying or people would be asleep in the dorm, I was up at five in the morning running stairs, you know, getting ready for the season. Mmm. In college, the basketball season. So I kind of took, well not even taken, I, I’m actually wired to, to be self motivated. So if I see that somebody has something in them, I feel like if I have the tools to help them get to that space, have the obligation to give you, if I genuinely care about you as a friend or as a family member, I’m going to give you this information so you can be great.  Um, so saying all that to say, so like when I got called to work with Justin for the first time before I met you, I meet with them in the first thing I say to them, this is a true story. The first thing I say to him, I said listen, before we start this meeting, let me tell you who I am. I don’t care about being seen next to you on TV, film, magazines, tabloids, anything. The only thing I care about is if you take this serious. I say, because I am very competitive and if my name was attached to you, I’m going to make sure I pull whatever’s out of you. I’m going to pull it out of you to be great. I said because of what I think thats inside of you. You have the opportunity and hear me when I say this, the opportunity to be one of the best people in music history. If you take this serious, I said, you have to come to a world where you make it. You have to make a guy like me, like you. And he’s only there because he has to bring his girl that he come see you and he’s mad. That he’s there to watch you, So I say, so whenever we do in the gym, we’re at rehearsal, dance rehearsal. If it takes you a hundred times a thousand times to get a dance step, right? You want to do it a thousand times still you get it right. Thats it. Because you don’t have the luxury to mess it up and that’s it. And , I said, so when you see that guy, he’s looking at you like this <inaudible> you have to get that guy to move. And I told him, I said, you can get that guy to move. You get the world to move. You hear me when I say that? If you get that guy to move, you can get the world to move 

Um, did you write that down? Literally one of my all time favorite ways to lock in an incredible performance is to lock in on one person. The one person that’s not feeling. It’s a game. Of course, I don’t know actual voodoo or like mind trickery, but after hundreds and hundreds of shows, I became able to get at least a smile and a step touch out of even the most unenthusiastic concert goer or chaperones as I like to call them. They’re the ones giving off the, Oh no, no, no, no, no. Um, I’m not here for you. I’m here for my girlfriend or my daughter or my wife or whoever. Okay. Don’t get me wrong though. There is something very, very moving about a room full of screaming fans, but if you can make the not a fan move, Oh my gosh, it feels like winning the lottery. It is incredible. Although I have never actually won the lottery, so maybe that’s not the right analogy. Also, I’ve never actually bought a ticket. I’m getting off topic. Okay, we’re back. Okay. Let’s get back into working out with Jason and the three words that changed my dance life forever.  

I remember a lot of our workouts. I remember your pushup routine that I still do occasionally. I remember you bench pressing me as your weights. I remember, um, frog jumps. Is that what we call it? I don’t remember. I got so ridiculously sore that I couldn’t dance and I had to like dial it back. But this one moment it was not workout related. This one particular show during the 20/20 experience, um, I was, I think I was under the weather. I was either like physically sick or maybe homesick. I don’t, I don’t remember exactly what I was going through. But I came to you as I often did and I was like, yo, Jay help me get through this show. Like what is going to get me through the show tonight? I don’t, I don’t, I need fuel, I need juice. And you said “You only have three things that you need to worry about in this show. Three that is all, hips, lips and fingertips. And it sounds silly, but within that confined I found tremendous freedom. So by cutting my mind off from the things that were distracting me and focusing it on just three things. I was able to go so deep on hips, lips, and fingertips, and it was just so liberating. I think I delivered one of the best shows of my life that night. Um, what other wisdom might you have for people that are feeling less than.And that can help us focus into being more than. 

Well, my motto is I’ve been saying that since I was a kid. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. Because you have to be prepared for whatever’s thrown at you in this entertainment business at all times. You know, you’re gonna have random sleep. You know, you’re gonna have random food. You know, you don’t know if the hotel beds going to be comfortable, well, you don’t know. Did she just prepare for anything? If your show was two hours long, then we’re training for three hours? The main thing is to get your mindset ready for anything. This is always my answer is always do you have to program your mind to already be ahead of whats about to happen to prepare yourself for anything. If you’re the sports team and the star players coasting everybody on the team is not going to give that kind of effort. You have to give the effort to set the example.

I think that’s an important note because not only for the leader or the the front man of the group, but for everybody in the group because you’re leading somebody, whether you know it or not, someone is looking to you for the tone, for the vibe, for the energy. It might be a fellow dancer on stage or it might be somebody in the audience. I think setting a bar, setting a high bar is so important. It’s why people are drawn to you. It’s why I was drawn to you. It’s why we’re still friends and I just, I can’t thank you enough for being so excellent.  

So being somebody that’s so, uh, face to face with popular culture all the time, do you have any recommendations for how to drown out the noise in terms of what people should be and how to reinforce all the lovely things that we are 

The biggest thing I would tell people is to understand your inner voice. And what I mean by that is the only person that knows what’s really going on in your head is you. And if you understand the field, or the business that you want to get into. Meaning, something tangible that can work in this space and you know your work and you really understand what it is then don’t listen to anybody but yourself. Your intuition is never ever wrong. It’s something that we are born with, that we have inside of us that connects us to everything that’s happening around us.  And if you really understand it and you really listen to it, you understand how much you’re in tune with the world and other people. But you have to be open to receive it. If you’re not open to receive it, then you’ll miss it. Listen to yourself. No. Then if you put a really, if you put your mind to something, you can do it with no problem. You just have to understand that it’s not going to be, nothing is a cake walk. There are very few people that are like  gifted to do certain things. It just give a born to do that thing and there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s just, there were born to do that thing. They were built for that thing. Body’s constructed for that thing. Their mindset, their feet, their hands, everything about it was built or that thing.  Most of the people have to work towards that thing. Even though you understand that you might have to work towards it. But some people are just gifted to do that thing. You know, it’s like by Kobe Bryant, his passing, he was built to play basketball. Everything about his body was built for that sport. It wasn’t built to play football. He was good for the sport of basketball. Michael Jordan, the same way. Certain people are just built for that sport. No. Um, and then you have an exception to the rule. Mmm. Like 

There’s always an exception

Ryan Williams who’s know, six, seven, six, eight 285 pounds. He looks like a defensive lineman and he jumps like he’s 160 pounds. It doesn’t make sense. So you have those anomalies every once in a while. But again, that’s just a gift that they’re born with. But most people, again, I understand it’s something you really have to study it.  If you want to, you know, learn how to be a great dancer, then you study with other great dancers. If you want to be a great artist, study with great artists, you have to be around people who are great, In order to observe, greatness, unless you’re just a freak of nature and you just born with that gift of whatever that thing is that you’re doing know. So like when my, my godson, who’s an artist, right? The only person who’s want to teach them showmanship is you like, you’re on what you’re already on. Are you already on my list of people who are going to be part of his team? Because because of what you are, he needs what you are. He needs you to teach him. That’d be a certain way on stage because he doesn’t know. Mm. Yeah. He can move. He has natural talent. He can dance, but he needs YOU.. 

Yeah, I am flattered and you know exactly where to find me.  

It is really, really cool to see how far time, talent and connections can take someone because over the years that I’ve known you, you’ve been so many different things to so many different people. I cannot wait to meet music producer Jason. I cannot wait to watch the movie that you wrote and produced and or directed. I cannot wait for the world to see these things. I’m just so happy to put you in touch with a part of my world. Introduce them to you because you’ve really helped mold me into what I am today. Thank you so much for doing this. 

You don’t have to thank me. You know i’d do anything in the world for you. I’m your family. You already know that, so thank you. I appreciate it. I’m glad I could help you. 

Oh by the way, I have on the podcast, I have a a sign off line. My sign off is “keep it funky.”

Oh, I like it keep it funky. 

Yeah. Okay. Keep it funky everybody. I’ll see you next week. 

Good. If You smell something, It’s just Dana.