Ep. #80 Respect the Technique with Kara Mack

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #80 Respect the Technique with Kara Mack
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In this episode, Kara Mack (dancer/ choreographer/ movement coach/ producer, founder and CEO of Africa in America) talks about how she builds bridges.  She builds bridges from education to entertainment, entertainment to agitation, and pop culture to the many cultures of the African diaspora. Kara artfully advocates for individual responsibility and the harmony of our society.  If you are looking to find your place and learn how important we all are in the music OF LIFE… this one is for YOU!

Quicklinks

Africa In America: http://africainamericamag.com/

https://www.instagram.com/africainamerica/

Kendrick Lamar Grammy Performance: http://premierwuzhere.com/videos/watch-kendrick-lamars-performance-at-the-58th-grammys/

Transcript:

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

Dana: Hello, my friend. And welcome to the podcast. I’m Dana. This is words that move me. I’m stoked you’re here. I am so stoked to be sharing this conversation. My guest today is the one and only Kara Mack. Kara is such a gift. Um, I don’t even know where to begin. She is the founder and CEO of Africa in America. She is a dancer, choreographer movement, coach educator, um, a self-proclaimed forever student. Uh, so she and I are kindred in that way. And she’s a producer, a mother, um, I mean so much more. You’re about to find out and I’m willing to bet you are also about to learn a lot, but first let’s talk wins. I love starting every episode with wins. And today I love letting you know that my win is one of those unique and special moments where work and play get to overlap. I’ll be traveling to Phoenix, Arizona for NYCDA nationals, and I get to visit my dad. If you’ve been listening for a long time, you might’ve even heard from my dad. He was on a father’s day episode. Um, you’ve probably also had the chance audibly meet my mom, but I don’t get to see my dad as much. He lives in Phoenix and I’m excited to visit, see a little bit what his world is like and, um, uh, get to teach a bunch of young dancing’s as well. So when, When birds stone, that’s what I’m celebrating today. All right, what is going well in your world? Hit me.  

I’m proud of you. Stoked for you. Keep winning. Now let’s dig in. This episode is a call for reverence. It is a call for respect. In this episode, Kara and I really dig into the importance of African Diaspora movement and music being recognized and celebrated technical forms, not hobbies, not electives, not extra credit. And certainly not something that you slap on the special skills part of your resume. After you’ve taken two quote African classes. Kara, will talk a lot more about that. She’s also going to talk about entertainment and activism, education, Oh, it’s beautiful. She also goes in, and this is important on the harmony that is society and how important we all are to this song called life. Oh, y’all it goes deep. So buckle up and get ready to enjoy the absolutely incredible Kara Mack,

Dana: Kara Mack. Welcome to words that move me. Thank you so much for being here.  

Kara: Thank you for having me, Dana. 

Dana: I am thrilled to get to like talk to you for an hour, but also really, really excited to share you with my listeners. Um, I, you and I have had not met in person until just a week ago, and I’m assuming you will be meeting some of these listen type listener types for the first time. Uh, so I’ll start by simply asking you to introduce yourself and tell us anything you want us to know about you. 

Well, I am a very simple person, so hello everyone. My name is Kara Mack, and I just like to call myself a Black Renaissance woman. So that incorporates everything that you need to know about me. 

You Better Renaissance. And what better time to have a Renaissance woman on the podcast, then the actual Renaissance. This is the in, in so many ways, um, an awakening for arts, uh, cultural awareness and awakening, and also like the actual circumstances are things are opening. Things are happening and I’m so glad that they are happening with you is a part of our lives, a part of our world. 

I appreciate that Dana, thank you! 

Oh my pleasure. Trust me. The compliments are only just beginning because the more I learn about you, the more I love about you, uh, I would love to start by talking about Africa in America. You are the founder and CEO, um, of, of this. I’m going to call it a resource, but please correct my language. I’m not sure what to call it. Actually. It is a very all encompassing entity. Could you,

Brand 

It’s a brand. Okay. Could you talk a little bit about Africa and America? What your vision was for it back in 2014 when you started and, um, what, you’re, what you’re up to now?  

Well, basically I started it in 2014, but it happened within my heart, like many, many years before the actual like first event. And the reason why I started it was twofold. So first from the aspect of being a dance teacher in dance academies and the respect, or I should say lack there of lack of within dance academies, within my experience for any style under the African Diasporic umbrella, I’m saying any style. So in the beginning you have particular people that have certain respect, but then they may get busy and they have to put other people in charge who decide that it’s only ballet, modern, jazz that needs to be required. Now the other stuff are electives. So with me year after year after year, trying to tell them, Hey, you guys, we being adults that mentality trickles down to the students. So yes, they are going, you know, you do sign 25 students up for my West African class. But because of that mentality of you already saying that that class is an elective, I am not going to consistently have 25 kids in my class whenever it’s supposed to, because they already know based off of how adults roll, that these are only the top three are the only things that you need to know to be successful in America as a dancer. So, so damaging. So with that being, you know, starting off just seeing that in me having to pull away from the academic side, now I’m traveling overseas and actually introducing myself to continental Africans or other Africans in the diaspora, and they’re looking at me like, hold up, where did you learn our stuff? Because they had no idea that it is been here since the fifties

Here being.. 

In America.So they’re not understanding how I’m dancing and doing all of that stuff. Like as if I was living there. 

Oh, Was this, uh, in your view, a compliment to you and your teachers and your 

Yes, but also just, just blown away by how we in the diaspora still. So divided still like, you know, we’re in our different places. So when I came back, I said, what could I do to be a bridge? And to also from the beginning to the end, say, respect the techniques, respect the techniques, respect the techniques. So that’s why I put in started 2014 Africa in America. Even the logo of the Africa is in between the A andA Africa and America, because I’m African-American yes, but it is about the bridge and the foundation between those continental Africans and the diaspora. And how can we begin to educate? So I started educating through of course, bringing master drummers, master dancers, having master workshops so people can be exposed to it. Then I said, I’m going to have an annual, original work showcase specifically for African Diaspora music and dance, because I see REDCAT I see all of these original work showcases, but whenever they see African Diasphoric movement, they look like, what, why are you doing this? I don’t even understand it. So I don’t understand your original work. And why did you submit? So I said, Africa and America will produce our own original work. So I give choreographers and composers every year for seven years straight. I did this at Barnsdall Gallery Theater in Los Feliz. So I’ve dealt with in one showcase over 25 different artists on the stage, because when you bring a choreographer, they are bringing their dancers, they’re bringing their music. So all of the city, whoever, you know, follows Africa in America, you get to see an original work showcase specifically for these styles. So you may get Panamanian, you may get Afro-Brazilian, you may get, you know, it’s so much stuff that just happens on that petite stage at Barnsdall Gallery theater. So then I took it further. I said, okay, how can we, you know, just keep it in people’s faces. I said, oh, clothing line, t-shirts stretch pants, all of this different. So I just began to evolve as the years went on and here we are in 2021, just like you see everyone like respect the technique T-shirts all of this stuff. And I’m just like, yeah, respect. Cause it’s not my group. I want to shine a light on everybody who does this and takes it seriously and who’s professionals at it so that people can understand like, Hey, the same way that you respect certain styles, just, just, you know, have empathy in your heart to say, okay, I just didn’t know about that. So now let me educate myself about that. And then you will see that the same blood, sweat, and tears that you had to put into pointing your foot, you have put into lifting up your legs and do something that’s the West African. So simple.  

I see respect the technique being naming a technique versus assuming it’s a hobby or assuming it’s a, a past time, uh, cultural dance. Uh, um, I want to say folk dance folk being of the people of a place. Uh, right. So this is, this is claiming space as an essential form and wow, as, when you’re talking about a teacher’s responsibility to embody and, um, exemplify what they’re teaching and the importance of what they’re teaching. If a teacher demonstrates that West African styles are not important, if they demonstrate with their language and with, you know, with how they move in the world, that that’s a, that that’s a hobby that it makes total sense that the students would too. And the more I learn the student that ever the perpetual student in me, I see African Diasporic movement and music as being like the basest base level of our food pyramid. This is like a nutritionist trying to tell a young person to eat their veggies and fruits and grains with a candy bar hanging out of their mouth, or like eating only drinking, only soda like this. To me, it’s, it’s that foundational. It is the base of our food pyramid. And we are suggesting that it is a snack or a, uh, uh, a sweet treat for, you know, when we’re, when we’re wanting to feel like we can get our toes wet in the cultural arts, it just is so much, 

That’s exactly What it is. That’s exactly what it is. Like you couldn’t have said it any better and it’s frustrating.  

Well then we’ll stop here before I can say something stupid because trust me, I’m new to this. I am, I am learning so much every day. And thank you for being such a willing and compassionate teacher, but it just, yeah, this is, this is why I’m excited to have you here today. I want to hear more about this. I want to, like you said, being able to humble down and say, oh, I didn’t know that, oh, I didn’t, I didn’t ever hear that. I have never seen that. Isn’t anything to be embarrassed of. In fact, y’all, if I have anything to do with it, Kara Mack will be doing a lot more work in the world that’s making you feel like, you know, nothing. Okay. So African dance Africa, the continent is a continent was just say that right outright. This is not a country. This is not a one type of people. This is not a one type of dance, but, um, I’m, I’m hoping that it becomes more integrated in our dance institutions and in our, you know, curriculum for building dance. But I also hope to see more of it in pop culture. And that is what I want to talk about next. If you are not totally tired of talking about Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy performance in 2016, can we please talk about it?  

No problem. Because honestly, that was the beginning of like, who is this chick and where did she come from? Type of vibe. So going ahead and ask away any questions you have.  

So first of all, if you haven’t already seen this legendary performance, Kendrick Lamar, 2016, I think he won like five Grammys that year. So that oughta, yeah, he came with heat. Um, please watch, I’ll make sure to link to the performance so that you can watch it and watch Kara getting down. Um, but in this piece, we, we get to see black men in chains, in prison jumpsuits. We get to see a very stark, deliberate and artful, but not subtle line between the incarceration of Black men in America and Africa period. It’s people, their resilience, their bravery, their energy, their fight, and seen side by side. This is one of the most impactful pop performances I’ve ever seen. And I call it pop. Not because that’s the style of music. It is, but because this is mainstream, this is the Grammy’s, this is network television. This performance was brought into the homes of middle America and a bunch of Americans that had that probably possibly, probably would rather have not seen that that night. 

I’m so happy. You know, that Danna.  

Well, I got, I got rocked. I was uncomfortable as hell watching that performance. It was loud, but I think that there is, I have always strived in my work. If we’re talking about bridges to bridge entertainment and education, I just think, and we’ll talk about more about teaching in a second, but I really think that you could do a quick sneak attack and do a lot of education under the veil of entertainment. Sesame Street is a beautiful testament, but that’s not all. I think we can really make education entertaining and get a huge payoff from it, but backup what that performance did was entertained and agitate at the same time. And that is harder. And I can only imagine the number of meetings and discussions and approvals and permissions and the number of straight ups forgive my language, but ***k you, I don’t care what you say. This is what we’re doing. I can only imagine how much of that was going on behind the scenes. I have now talked for 20 minutes about this performance and not asked a single question. 

I love it. I’m just over here. Like I don’t have anything to answer. You just totally got it in your head. That’s hilarious. All right, I’m still listening. 

Okay. Okay. Okay. I would love to know about your involvement in that creative process. I’ve only shared one creative space with you and then one training space with you, which both of which I’m eternally grateful for, but in this creative space, you, you brought a lot of context and a lot of history, a lot of your knowledge to the room I’ve been in rooms where that isn’t always welcome, whether that’s because of the leader at the top or whether that’s because of simply not there being enough time. Like we, we, we have four hours to get 40 people doing the same thing at the same time. We don’t have time to be educated right now. We’re, we’re assuming point blank that everyone in the room is educated if we’re on this gig. So what I would love to know is on that gig, did you serve a similar role to the role that I’ve seen you in, which is delivering the context, delivering some history. So was your role in that process? Similar? Did you serve in a, in a similar way?

I served as, uh, yes. I would like to say first to answer. Yes. I served in a similar way, but also deeper, um, flowers to Fatimia Robinson for being a particular leader that allows me every time that I work with her to actually give the reason for why I’m doing a certain movement, because she understands that first of all, this is a new movement for you quote unquote seasoned industry dancers. You have not seen this movement. So while you’re trying to figure out the movement within your body, that’s why we’re here for all of these hours. It’s not you being here for all of these hours, trying to, you already have the movement and you’re trying to get spacing, or you’re trying to find out what is your reason behind this two-step. No, you actually first have to get the movement. So I’m here having, you know, a semi African Diasporic bootcamp. So at the same time, I now have to explain to you why I’m doing the movement. So you won’t look confused and simply doing the movement on stage. So if you don’t have a leader, that’s giving you that space and opportunity to do it. I think. And I, and I would S I say, think because a lot of leaders don’t lead like her, which is sad to say, but some leaders will say, you know, get the movement and I don’t care look confused on stage, but it’s your choreo, that’s your name attached to it. So with, Fatima, it’s like, yes, Kara, tell Kendrick, while you’re doing this, tell the dancers why she doing? 

She’s no fool 

Shareway share away. So with that being the aura and the vibe that I was under, I had the space and opportunities to create whatever movement that I wanted. She gave, she just said, go, I didn’t even know actually what was going on. I didn’t know who the artist was. I just know that I was brought in to do a job. And then over time, I started to see the weight of that job, who that artist was, but it was just Kara, just move, you hear the music, just move and now teach these dancers what you just did. And so even within that, Dana, I didn’t tell my family or anybody because you know, the industry, like you, you can love it one day. And then the producers and everybody come later that week and it just like scratch all of that dah, dah, dah. But once we made it to the Staples Center and I saw that it still remained, like I was like, are you serious?  

Massive, it was massive! 

Massive. And then to think that none of us even knew that he was going to do the whole continent with Compton ending. We did not get any of those visuals yet. So imagine us in the back, like looking up at the monitor and him in it and it, and it, and it, and it it’s the continent. I was like, are you serious? But I even told him when we left, um, one of the rehearsals, I said, are you ready? Because remember it was right after, Beyonce’s Superbowl performance, 

Formation 

The formation with the Mike, Michael Jackson with the black power, that whole thing. And a lot of people was giving her flat, like that shouldn’t be at the super bowl. What is she doing? Black this way? And then the black yeah. Heavier. So it was very Ooh. And so when I saw one, yeah. And when I saw what he was leaning towards, I’m like, you’re going to the source and you’re putting it on the Grammy stage. So I asked him, I was like, are you ready for it? And he shook his head. It was like, he didn’t expect me that, you know, ask that question. But it was like him letting it sink in. And he’s like, yeah, yeah, I’m ready. Cause I it’s, like, I felt the weight without even seeing any of the visuals, any of what was going to be presented on the video. None of that, just the movement and just seeing like how it began and how it ended. I said, wow, are you ready? He said, yeah. I said, okay. But I had no idea, Dana. I, no idea it was going to be is be big and impactful as it was like, first I was telling you, like, it was because of social media where people that are professionals in these styles, it’s like, no who did that choreo in front of like, who did that part? And it was just like, wow, that’s, what’s up. All of my people in Cuba, all of my people in Brazil, all of my people in different countries, in West Africa that saw that Grammy performance, it was like, put it in the comments, Kara Mack, Kara Mack, Kara Mack. And I was like, wow, that’s what’s up. All right. So I understand my responsibility and I have to continue going down this particular path in my life.  

I’m so glad to hear that people said your name and people wrote your name and people read your name. My followup question is a tough one. It come, it’s coming up a lot lately. And I’m glad that it is because I think it’s an important distinction to make where you a contributing choreographer on that job, or was your role a dancer or was your role assistant or what, what was your title?  

I would like to say for that particular job, I was, I was a dancer, but I also contributed the movement that you see in front of the bonfire. Like that particular part. Yes. I contributed that. Um, and yeah, like within the industry, I’m happy to say that Fatima, uh, also Adrian big ups to Dubs, um, Charm, just different people that were witnesses and can account for, uh, the work that I put in. I’m very, very, very appreciative for them. Cause I respect all of them very much, but it’s very true that with other people in other circumstances, they do not get that same just due, so yeah. I’m happy that these conversations are coming up as well.  

I think it’s, um, a broader conversation in the education of what the choreography department brings to a project. Not necessarily just being eight counts, as you mentioned in this case, it was history lessons. Yes. It was steps. Yes. It was even your body doing the steps, but it was context. It was information. It was, I mean, I’m assuming I can, I can only imagine a borderline religious experience in that room every day. Yeah. Um, and, and I think that some, some audiences know that, most of them don’t some productions know that many of them don’t, many of them don’t know that choreography is a department. They think that’s one person, one choreographer. And the thought that one person could control I’ll use that word for lack of a better one at this moment could control the 40 people that were on stage. Nope, no,  

No. That’s with me learning all with me, learning over the course of time, like Fatima’s also been a great teacher. Um, just shedding, so much information on my physical body mentally and spiritually is the fact that no, even if someone asked me to do all of that, I wouldn’t look at them like you have lost your ever loving mind, like the things that you have to do in coordinating with different, um, departments with the clothing and then with the props and then with the lighting and what is the artists going to wear? And it’s just like, no, absolutely. So everyone who’s listening that is what comes with that particular role as choreographer is not stepping in a studio and saying 5, 6, 7, 8. So yeah, if you didn’t know now, you know,  

Uh, super shout out to not my last episode, but the episode before, when I sit down with the choreography team, from In the Heights, it really was when they say it takes a village in our case, at least a small apartment complex of people to get that done. But then, but one of the things that we talk about in that episode is that the structure of the choreography, the organization and the collaboration of the choreography team is one thing. And it does get to shine in that movie, holy smokes. But what really shows up on the screen is the spirit of the dancers. That’s the one part, the choreography team can’t deliver on the day. Yes. You know, we can, we, we are involved in casting. We have discussion with music, with set with all of the other departments, but on the day it’s dance team, who’s supported by choreo team that gets out and gets the word out. That’s like a, we are important, this matters. And so I, I see that performance is a beautiful example of that. The dancers on stage. I mean, I cry. I think about Marv, I think about watching you dance. It is so.. Calling it impassioned feels small. It feels it’s like possessed. It is something such a treat for, especially for an award show. Um, but I, I just, I think the world of that performance and I’m in awe of your role in it, I’m so glad it exists. And I want everyone to watch it five times.  

I want to share one, um, special moment for me. Um, I’ve shared this before, but I want to share it on your platform. When I shared, uh, with Kendrick, uh, the part of the choreo where we do a circle around him, he in the beginning thought that it was like, oh, it’s like spirits around me and I’m scattered. And I’m trying to find my place. And it was the moment that I was like, no, Kendrick, that’s not, this is a rhythm Sandia, but it’s, Lamban the song Lamban, which is lifting up the oral historian, which is the Griot. And I said, Kendrick, you are African-American’s oral historian. So we’re doing this movement around you to lift you up and to give you energy for what is your role. And so he just got quiet and he said, you know, basically it was like, okay, okay. And automatically I saw a change within him. And during that performance, it’s like, oh wow, I get it. Like, it’s like claiming my responsibility and claiming my role for what I’m supposed to do. So now I’m gonna just take this a whole mile past what I thought I was gonna present on a Grammy stage. So yeah, that moment was special to me because he really thought he was just like, oh, it’s, you know, things around me. And I’m trying to figure, as I know, there’s nothing to figure out. We are here only to uplift you and to encourage you for you are our oral historian. You are our Griot.  

Thank you so much for sharing that. Yeah, that’s awesome. That makes me want to go in one direction, but I’m going to go another direction then I’m going to circle back. Okay. I got Google maps pulled up there. They’re like, you are not on the fastest route. Do you want to take another route? And I’m like, no, I want to stay on this route. Let me, let me keep going. I had Moncell Durden on the podcast over the summer of last year, and I took a few of his courses, um, Intangible Roots, which was awesome. And then he did a collaboration series with Passion Fruit Seeds. I learned so much one of the, um, one of the themes that I liked learning about the most and was embarrassed and ashamed that I had not heard of sooner was the notion of a Ring Shout and what happens to the dancer who is in the center? The, the geometry obviously is very significant and very important there’s of the land there’s of the godly there’s of the water. Um, and there’s this notion that the person in the center maybe mounted by a spirit. And I asked you a similar question the other day when we were jamming, but I asked Moncell this question specifically in a ring shout, this moment was not about dance. This was not about show and prove. This was not about anybody’s sick skills, or it wasn’t about like even attracting a mate. It wasn’t about being the dopest and getting the best dancer or the best, you know, whatever. It’s not about this. It is a religious experience and in learning more and more, and the depth of those roots becoming more aware of, um, the, the Pantheon of Orishas in Yoruba culture, I’m learning the importance of religion of spirituality. And so I asked Moncell, is there space for atheism in this dance? Is there room for other gods than these I know there are hundreds of Orishas, but we hear specifically about a small handful of them. Like, is there room for what I think of that God in the dance, or could a person I’ve asked eight questions now, could it, could a person still authentically embody the dance without believing in those gods.  

To first answer the question, um, the same way that I answered it when we were jamming, you first have to come with the honor and the respect of what is the tradition. So there are a lot of people you may have dancers that are professionals in these styles that may be a Buddhist. They may believe, you know, in so many different, uh, like other different religious and faiths, like yeah, but the reason why they are professional within the music and dance styles is because of the respect and the honor of what those people do. Because once again, we’re not talking about styles where everyone that is within that ethnic group is now wiped off the planet. Those people are living and breathing, cultivating. They’re still living their lives as we are doing this podcast right now. So you have to just dig deeper in those types of, you know, worldviews and concepts. That’s outside of a Westernized structure of, oh, this is what I do. So how can I put what I do onto you?  It’s not in, it should not be about that, at all. It should be, as it 

Because is in Western!

Exactly, it should be about the total acceptance for what it is now, you, within your own spirit have to make choices. Once you see something and experience something for what it is, you then have to ask certain questions of yourself, not turning it into which a lot of westernized people do. Here are some suggestions that I believe can make your brand better. And that’s we treat, we treat styles musically, and movement-wise like their brands. So we don’t look at it as I know the roots and I’m being creative. It’s now like, no, I’ve adjusted it properly. It is now my signature. And now you will call it by my name. Hmm,  

Man, when you put it that way, it is a very, uh, an unsavory thought 

And it has been done so much. So to, to, to finalize and complete that question, you can do, you, you can do you freely. However, when you come with now, this passion, because I believe Dana with you, especially, and to all of the listeners who have this passion to learn certain things now, or even before that, you probably can’t even explain, no, you move on that passion. You move on, what’s moving your spirit. Now in your head, you probably define things a certain way and that’s totally you doing you, but I’m also a believer in you being moved by your passions. And, and I’m just sticking to that. Whatever you want to call that, call it, whatever vocabulary, word, whatever title it’s all on you. 

I’m going to call it pineapple. 

If you are, if you are a pineappling in your heart, then you better go down that pineapple road. Because in the end, honestly, when you are at that age where it’s like, yeah, I have done it. And I am complete. You won’t feel complete because you know, within your heart that it was so many things that you were passionate about.  

You know whats incredible. Can I tell you what? Oh, it’s incredible. As you are giving that beautiful speech about passion. I was fondling my neck, my necklace, which is a blue ceramic heart. It is a keepsake that I have had since my first trip to Los Angeles as a preteen. Well, I guess I was technically, I think I was 13 or 14. I was taking my first dance class at millennium dance complex. My heart was so wildly on fire for dance. I went across the street, there was a little boutique and I think I’m pretty sure it was supposed to use this money on like food. And I found this necklace and I fell in love with it. And I was fondling it in the little bead that’s in the middle of the heart just fell out, but I’m not going to make that mean. I’ve lost my passion for them. I can see it. It’s on the floor. Find some gloom. It’s about eternal heart. Okay. So what I would like to add to this notion of respect and honor, because I, I, I want to ask an ignorant question, but I’m going to stop myself. 

Don’t say ignorant

Um, uh, a poorly formed question. How do you know you have reached respect and honor? How do you know that? Like, okay. Uh, I took Moncell’s workshop over the summer. I respect and honor. That’s not it. So how do you know, how do you measure that point and how do you know that you’ve arrived?  

It is actually a great, great question. When you, uh, when you showed up in humble yourself and you just receive when it’s not about when it’s not about you. And I say that, meaning there are a lot of people that already assume when I say, when it’s not about you, it’s like, oh no, but I am a humble person in class, I do fall back and I’m pretty quiet. 

I I I I

You, and you hear that, I, you hear it. And it’s like all of the, the attributes of how humility looks to them comes out as a defense, to what I’m saying. Like, you know, when you’re totally invisible in the movement and the music is the only thing that matters. You as a person, me as Kara Mack, when I’m receiving information, my history where I was born, how old I was, my, my credits, what I will be doing on the day after the class. None of that matters. None of that matters. Like I am fully in the moment so much that I have disappeared into the space of whatever is occurring during that time that I’m receiving that information. It could simply be in a studio in Hollywood, or I could be out on the beach in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa, I’m in that space. I don’t need the attributes of what it looks like to be in the earth and to beat, to actually be in the earth and be present and be there to receive information like we have it, people have gotten so, so, so, so, so Westernized that we have to create the visual to make us seem like we’re connecting with the universe. No, if you’re really connecting with the universe, you can connect with the universe wherever you are.  

And you’re likely not on your phone  

And just, and simple things like that. So that’s when you know, like, okay, that is the beginning of my learning because I’m a forever student. I’m going to be learning until, you know, you see me physically no more, but that is the beginning of when you begin to actually learn when you’re totally out of the way when you’re totally, totally out of the way. And someone has to point you out and say, okay, Dana, I see that you’re now ready for blahzay, blahzay, blahzay, blahzay, blahzay, not you taking it upon yourself to say, now I see myself I’ve been in these classes for so-and-so it’s no, no. In those moments it can be a child that point you out. It doesn’t have to be the head of a company or a head of a production. It’s the spirit spirit recognize a spirit. 

In fact, it’s probably to seek that type validation from that type of moment is even further in the, in the, in the opposite direction of the selflessness that you are, uh, speaking of.  

Yes. 

Well, that is certainly a lot to chew on and possibly the best answer to the best question that I almost didn’t ask. 

No, I love that question. It’s not an ignorant question. I don’t, a lot of people ha a lot of people that are artists need to get back to that because for some reason, we we’re now living in a society too, that really, really belittles art just period to make us seem like we carry no responsibility. When we are the movers and shakers of society. We are politicians, artists are politicians, politics, economic, cultural, any type of title you want to give. arts moves things in certain directions, people that were invisible 10 years ago, 20 years ago are now visible because of artists. Because of artists. So we have to claim or take back that power within all of us. So as dancers, as musicians, as visual artists, whatever you do, you have to take that back. And then when you start to get that confidence back, then you will be able to see how it’s easy to disappear and just soak up, just be a sponge, bring respect, and honor to whatever new experience that you’re experiencing at the time. It’s going to be easy because you understand that the power that you have,  

It’s going to be easy because you think that the process is one that is fulfilling versus one that is exhausting. And I’ll admit with full humility that in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, I felt like catching up was impossible. I felt like the amount of research, respect, and honor I owed I couldn’t in my lifetime pay. And, and so that feeling is kept me from doing it for a short time, this idea that I could never respect enough or honor enough, or right the wrongs enough. And that’s not useful. In fact, I really, I think that there’s a similarity here. Um, and I’m, I’m getting foggy brain. So I’m going to try to put it as concisely as I can. When you think it’s a responsibility, a joy, an honor, a pleasure to lead in this way, then the respect and the honor comes free flowing versus trying to muster it and trying to meet a deadline or certain mile markers of having done enough. It’s simply what we do is simply what we do and then. Should we choose it? Which is a responsibility, but go, go, go.  

I just think that majority of the stress will just fall off all of our shoulders. If we see that we are not the only ones that are doing what we’re doing, when we have a bird’s eye view and an aerial view to the people that are in different geographic locations all over this world.  

Oh, I see. I see. Yes. 

If we just, I, I can, uh, I contributed, uh, to think about the definition of poly rhythms, poly rhythms, we African Diasporaic music and dance showcases polyrhythmic things. So think about just dig deeper on poly rhythms. Poly rhythms encompasses different rhythms. That’s happening all at the same time,  

Multiple, simultaneous, responsible.  

Now imagine if one person falls off their rhythm, if one person chooses to copy someone else’s rhythm, or if someone chooses to leave that rhythm, the ensemble falls off. So an African Diasporaic music and dance. It’s the artists as the individual, understanding the responsibility of the fact that if I don’t contribute what I’m supposed to contribute, let’s go deeper. If I don’t do my purpose, then this whole community, community, ensemble, group, falls off because of me not contributing anything. The society is making us to believe that when we don’t contribute anything, it doesn’t matter. They’ve been successful at doing that. If someone gives five part harmony and this one part is off, no one is focusing on the fact that four other singers are still singing on key. They’re saying this five-part harmony is off. Look at that in life. How important is that one person in that poly rhythm in that five part or six part or seven part harmony, even three part harmony. That means that your life, the part that you play matters. So don’t overthink about how much you’re giving. Just freaking give, just give don’t let systems tell you that you don’t need to give because your contribution, whatever it is, doesn’t matter. That’s a lie. That’s the point. That’s the last. So you don’t carry the weight of it, all of it on your shoulders. It’s other people in the ensemble making this beautiful music right along with you, and you have to pay attention to every role that’s being played all at the same time that you’re giving your little. And then you look at it like, oh, I don’t carry all of this on my shoulders. Oh, it’s not my responsibility to do everything because I feel so much coming from my spirit due to social injustice, things of that nature. No everyone is doing it.  

That’s key. That’s key. Weightless does not mean responsibility-less. It means my responsibility. Exactly. Which relative to the big picture is small. But if I choose to not carry it for fear of the whole load, then none of the, none of it gets it  

Then the systems are successful and they can keep on doing what they’re doing because here is one person out and I’m still gonna take, yes, that’s the way I turn everything into music. Sorry. That’s not, no 

I’m with it. This is great. And I, I love the way that, that you did that and brought some broader context, you know, zooming out to a global versus a dance scale. But, um, it, because it is, it dances is life and life is dancing. This is it. This is why we’re here because I’m fascinated by that. And that, and that learning dance lessons really makes me a better human and being a better human makes me a better dancer. All of my out there, life experiences that show up on a stage in a performance or even in a brainstorm even pre-performance stage. All of the humanness is very helpful to what I do. Um, but I, I, uh, I’ve derailed again. I’m excited what I wanted to, what I wanted to shout you out for what you just said. This was a great teaching moment for all of the teachers who are listening is you brought context to help something stick. It’s more than making an analogy of two things that are unlike and saying that they’re alike. It’s helping me understand and making sticky a concept that I was struggling with. That’s what you just did. And it sounds like that’s what you did in the room with Kendrick, where you got to understand that regardless of how much time is offered or regardless of who is leading that additional understanding any additional understanding, any additional context, not only helps things to click faster, but it makes things last longer. And if we’re here to make a long lasting change, then it’s got to be sticky. These lessons that we’re delivering and these lessons that we’re learning and this art that we’re making has to be sticky. Yes. So thank you for making that sticky lesson for me.  

Practical lesson for all you dancers, the reasons why you should search and find other styles, other classes to take disappear in it, learn it, get soaked up in it is because dance is a language. The only way that you, you call yourself proficient in any language is once you’re able to comfortably in that language, say what you mean and mean what you say. Without that, you’re not proficient in that language. So if you call yourself a dancer, I don’t care if you love one style over another. If you’re, if you lean towards, I’m just saying a professional dancer, I believe that you would want to have as many vocabulary words for you to express yourself as you can, instead of your sentences being structured. I went to the store. I would like my sentences to be structured Yesterday as the light shines so bright in Los Angeles, California. I took my bike down to the store and met Mr. John, who said, that’s the difference between an amateur and a professional dancer. So that’s on a practical sense, vocabulary. Up your vocabulary. So then you can be able to get the jobs that you want and be successful at it. Up your vocab. Thank you,  

Please. Up your freaking vocab with the base of the food pyramid, not the top of the food pyramid. I’m dying. Okay. So on that note, Kara, where can we find more of you and your training? Um, I’m absolutely going to be linking to Africa in America. Yes.  

Well, as you said, Africa and America, that’s both on Instagram and Facebook and Dana knows I’m a private person. I, I personally, for me, I’m not the person that uses social media is like the resume. I’m all like, here’s my kid. And we went to the park. That’s like my personal Instagram. So sorry for you guys or looking for like choreography videos every two days for me and things that, no, I don’t do any of that. So you could get any update from me at the Africa and America, um, link. But if you want to send me a request because you’re very interested in my private life, it is @MackKara

I love this so much.  Um, okay, Well, thank you for that beautiful conversation. A peek into your experience. Um, as an educator, as a performer, as a choreographer, as a person who understands pop culture and rich, rich culture, I am so grateful for your time. Thank you, Kara. 

Thank you. Dana much, love, peace and blessings to everyone who’s listening and continue to support this Chica, Dana your hilarious. 

Oh my God. She’s laughing. Cause I’m just dancing in this tiny little corner where I try to record my podcast. Very small movement. Kara, we’ll talk to you again soon. Thank you again for being here. Bye. 

My friends. That was something else. Wasn’t it. I love Kara’s thoughts on responsibility. I love the way she encourages a well-rounded vocabulary. I love the way she teaches and I love the way she underlines the importance of respect and how to know once you’ve found it. Um, here’s one of the things that I really loved the most she says in bold font, I could tell she was speaking in bold font. Don’t overthink about how much you’re giving, just freaking give. So thank you for giving us gold Kara Mack and thank you all for listening. I so appreciate you now. Get out there and give and of course keep it very, very funky. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye 

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

Ep. #61 Giving Black and Passing it Forward with Eartha Robinson, Will Simmons, and Dominique Kelley

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #61 Giving Black and Passing it Forward with Eartha Robinson, Will Simmons, and Dominique Kelley
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Transcript:

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

Dana: Hello, my friend. And welcome! This is words that move me, I’m Dana, and this episode is different than most, and I am biased, but I will also say it is better than most, podcasts period. Better, because today I’m with you. I’m the listener. I’m not the host. And when I tell you that, as I listened to this episode, I laughed. I cried. I shouted. I learned, and I hope that you do too. I simply cannot wait another moment to share. So without any further ado, I am passing the mic to my friend and guest host. For this episode, the incomparable Dominique Kelley, who will introduce you to the young and talented and wise beyond his years Will Simmons AKA big will. Along with the sensational, the seasoned, the sophisticated, the soulfull Eartha Robinson Enjoy.  

Dominique: Boom. Good morning, everyone. Um, I am happy to almost Take over Words That Move Me Podcast. Uh, thank you, Dana Wilson for creating this space for us to talk. And I have two wonderful guests here today. I have Ms. Eartha Robinson and Big Will that’s what I love to call him. I’ll have them introduce themselves to you. Um, so why don’t we start with Eartha Robinson, please introduce yourself to not only the people listening to, but also to us.  

Eartha: Um, okay. I am Eartha Robinson. I was, uh, raised and I trained in Harlem in New York. Uh, went into performing arts. Um, I started dancing at 15, got my first professional job at 16. Been working ever since. Um, I have a wonderful family, two amazing daughters. I’m a choreographer, director, producer, uh, dancer, actress. Um, I do a lot of things. I’m um, uh, what could I say about myself? I’m the worst person to ask me about myself. Everybody else can speak my resume, but I just like,  

Dominique: Yeah, well that just goes to show how much you’ve influenced the dance community, because you have so many slashes that we can go on and on and on. I love it. All right. Big Will, do you want to introduce yourself?  

Big Will: Yeah, I’ll do it. What’s up. Y’all it’s my name? Wilson. AKA big will I am 20, almost 21. So, you know, a little quick little turn up for me. Um, but I’m 20 years old. I had been dancing at the age of five and professionally at the age of 10 and then my first professional job at the age of 11. So I’ve been working ever since I’m a dancer, choreographer, actor, and social media influencer as well.  

Dominique: Boom, good morning. And, uh, for those of you I’ve been on this, uh, podcast a couple of times before, but for those who don’t know, my name is Dominique Kelly and I’m just like, well, I started young I’m from Bridgeport, Connecticut. And you know, just like most people starting out with dance studio training, I was like, this is the pits. And, um, I remember there was a moment that I told my mother, I was like, you know what? I think I want to do it. And I stuck with it and I got my first job at the age of 12 and I did Black and Blue, the European musical. And then after that, I did Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk. And from then on, literally just worked my way from Broadway to TV, to film and you know, dancer, choreographer, educator. I try to do diversity seminars. I try to do all the things. So with that being said, let’s get into our first like, you know, question. So opening it up to both of you. What specifically inspired you to choose dance as a career? Because it’s different. When you get bitten by the bug of dancing, you can just, you know, dance around, but what specifically inspired you to want to do this for a living?  

Eartha: Well, uh, you want to go first Will or should I go?  

Big Will: I can go first. I think the one thing that made me choose dance was my older sister and Michael Jackson. My sister is five years older and she was actually born with a club foot. So she had to get surgery. And the only way for it to really fully heal was for her to take ballet. So she was really born into dance. Um, for me, I actually just ended up just watching her and I was like, you know what? Like, I can probably do the same thing as she can do. And I started dancing and I think what made me choose and want to pursue dance was I tried multiple different sports. I tried baseball for four years. I tried gymnastics for three years. I tried football for a year and you know, they all kind of failed in a way, but the one thing that stuck by me was dance. And I think after that first job, I looked at myself and I was like, huh, I can really do this for a living. Like, let’s take it, let’s just go for it. So I think that’s the one thing that really inspired me to dance is my sister overall. And then obviously watching so many other dancers that made it on So you think, like Twitch and, you know, Hok and all them. So I think that’s what really made me choose that. Got it.  

Eartha: Wow. That’s something, when you said your sister was born into it, because I fought for as far as I can remember, as long as I can remember dance, I always wanted to dance, but my family didn’t believe in that. That was, it was hard work. It wasn’t dance was a hobby. So I grew up thinking that dance was a hobby until I went into PA and my first dance concert, I was just thinking about this, Uh, yesterday. My first dance concert, I got $10 and I was like, what is this for? I couldn’t believe it. That you got paid to dance. And in my co, you know, my Co- company members, they were like, girl, that’s $10. Do you know? That is nothing. That’s like tokens.  So I didn’t know that, um, I didn’t know that, um, you could get paid doing that. Um, my mom started taking me once I started training. She took me to a few Broadway shows and I was like, I don’t want to do that because it’s, they do that all day, every day. And I wanted to do, you know, concert work. I wanted to be in Ailey. I wanted to do that. And then I saw Guys and Dolls with Debbie Allen in it and the backstage door was open and I got a glimpse of what was going on backstage. And that’s when I said, I’m doing that. I want to put on the costumes. I want to be in the make up. I want to do for the first time. I realized that, that’s excitement. That’s, I want to do that. 

Dominique: I love that.But yeah, something like that. Um, it’s very simple for me. I didn’t understand people getting nervous or having stage fright. And till this day, till this day, I’m the kind of person that when I see a down special onstage, whether it’s different, like a sound check or a light, a lighting cue to cue or anything, I have to stand in that spotlight. And God forbid don’t let me have a hat because it is over. And from that moment on, I was like, I don’t understand how people don’t have that magnet to jump into the spotlight and on a full stage, also being tall for a good amount of my life. The stage was the only place where I could stretch my limbs totally and fully, you know, so I was like, let me be on stage. I got this open air. Let me do this. Let me swim.

Eartha: It’s nothing like moving through space. Isn’t it? It’s nothing like defying and just soaring through space. It’s the best feeling in the world?  

Dominique: Definitely. Definitely. Okay. So next little question. Um, what kind of jobs did you gravitate to, and in those jobs where you othered?  

Big Will: I think what gravitated me the most was mainly, well, when I was younger, it was mainly TV. You know, I grew up with, like I said, watching, Shake it Up, watching a lot of Disney channel. So what gravitated me the most was being on that television, being on Disney and Nickelodeon and ABC, those kinds of shows. And then the older I got and the more experience I had, I started seeing myself more on tour and traveling because you know, having dance, thankfully we’re able to travel the world now with it. So I was like, what’s one way to see the world on a budget. And I was like being on tour. I think that’s what really got me, especially right now. Um, that’s, what’s gravitating me, is being on that tour. 

Eartha: Wow. That’s something it’s it’s I remember you as a little boy. Well, I don’t know if you remember me, but I remember you as a little kid, so it’s, it’s amazing watching you and just so grown up now. My thing was, um, I never looked at, Oh, I, um, I want to do this kind of dance or I want to go on tour, but it just, my life just unfolded that way. It just, um, because my first, the first love was concert work. I did concert and then I went on to Broadway and then I love stage. And then the next thing you know, I was doing film and then I loved that and it was just, it just kept, you know, it kept unfolding. And to me, um, it’s just it’s God, I guess. And so I just, I, I was just led doors opened and I stepped in and that’s how, so I’ve done everything from stage to television, to film I’ve choreographed, uh, artists and conceived, you know, all kinds. It’s just, you, you know, that feeling you guys, when, when it, when that creative juice just keeps flowing, it’s just like, wherever God led me, I was there, honey.  

Dominique: I feel you. Sometimes I tell people that I asked God for a bus pass and I got a limousine instead and I was like, Oh, these doors are going to keep opening. Sure. Why not? Exactly. So let’s bring it back to Will, because like Eartha I met will when he was younger also. And if you know, well, when you met him, when he was younger, you also remember his mother. And I remember we did a job, I believe it was Macy’s and it was so great to see a young African-American, uh, male that was not only talented, but humble, eager for a lot of information and whatever you threw at him, he was like, sure. And then even recently, when we worked on, um, a TV show for Disney, it was great to still see the same gentlemen, but just a little bit more grown up. And it’s been a joy to watch you flourish and bloom and have everybody notice that too. I mean, Eartha, do you remember, do you remember meeting him when he was younger?  

Eartha: Yes. Yes I do. And, and you know what, I think you might’ve been like nine or something and, and you were dancing and it was just so full of spirit. And I was like, wow, look at this kid. So respectful and professional at such that never left me that he was so young. And so professional. I said this an old, I remember calling him an old man.  

Dominique: Yeah. And also let’s shine some light on Miss Eartha too, because I think I met you once a while ago from Keith and Sharon Young and it was a while back. And not only that, we have a lot of mutual people like William Harris loves you, just like, I love you. And you know, I’ve, I’ve known about you for years upon years upon years, and we’ve never gotten a chance to work together, but I followed your career and Leslie, and that’s why it was an honor for me to talk to you because not only to see that chocolate skin on stage, you know what I mean? Or like in the movies and just your spirit and there’s, there’s something about your movement and then not only that to, Fame because you and I did the remake in 2009. So of course I went, Oh yeah, of course. I went back to do that research. 

Eartha: It’s that’s that’s show. Um, that was really something, I didn’t know, um, how much I impacted, um, a lot of girls, my color. It makes me well up now to see, you know, here, this #blackgirlmagic and Brown ballerinas and, Oh my God, it makes me. Um, because we didn’t have that, you know, you had to be, can I curse?  

Dominique: Maybe we can bleep it out. 

Eartha: You had to be really, really strong to, to navigate your way during that time. And then there were people before me that was even so, I mean, because they did hire black girls, but not my black, you know, so I didn’t know the impact that Fame had on so many young black dancers and girls period until, you know, after it was over, you know, I was just in work mode. You get, you know, you miss the moments sometimes when you’re there, when you’re, you know, just working, just working, just working, you just, you can’t see the forest for the trees sometimes. So, you know, always stop and look, you guys always be aware of your surroundings. Yeah. 

Dominique: And speaking of that, which is, it leads me to my next little thing that I want to bring up. And Will, you know, even though you’re wise beyond your years, you’re still, still younger than we are. But what advice would you give to your younger self in regards to navigating the industry as a person of color?  

Big Will: Oh, as a person of color, I would say, no, your self-worth. I think because a lot of people try to, in a way, use me to get that, Oh, I do support all races. And when I walk in the room, I’m the only person of color in the room. So I’m like, their special token. And I feel like as a younger, so just know your self worth, know that you have to work twice as hard to get noticed as, as well. And to keep that going, because at the end of the day, what I’m leaving on the table is my dancing ability, my personality, the, my work ethic, and so much more that they’re going to remember me by so they can always try to bring me back. So I think that’s kind of something I would tell my younger self for, you know, especially for people of color is to be very humble, be they’re respectful. Cause to get into this room is an honor already as it is. So don’t forget that.  

Eartha: Wow,  He said it all, you know, it’s um, uh, to be the only black person in the room. Um, I never felt uncomfortable. After the age of 17, I should say, because I grew up there. I didn’t, I, I didn’t mingle with white people, period. I grew up in Harlem and there were, you know, the, the teachers maybe, and then I’m from, you know, my whole family were Gullah. So on the islands, you don’t, we didn’t mingle. I didn’t get that until I went into Performing Arts. And then I had to build my, my strength and being with all these different people that not just Caucasians, but all different nationalities. And what I found after I brew and brew. I remember this moment doing Academy awards and, uh, Peter Allen was choreographing, Liza Minnelli. And it was this whole line of females and they needed one more female. And I was like I said, you know what I want to be. I want to break that color line. I want to break that — And I stood in that rehearsal. I stood in my rehearsal and Peter came over and he just looked around and he said, “Eartha come here.” And I broke that color line. He didn’t put me on the end he played me like fourth girl in. And so it was like, it was amazing. And that was something that I always wanted to do. I always wanted to show that my talent speaks first. What I do says who I am first, before you see the color of my skin. And another one real quick, you guys 

Big Will: I’m loving this 

Eartha: Auditions, back in the day. You know, it was black and white photos. You know the headshots. I know. 

Dominique: I remember, oh I do. 

Eartha: Will, you probably don’t remember, but you would go to these auditions, you’d go to these auditions and you think they’re asking for everybody. But as you, as you get down to the second call back, you’re looking around and you’re like, they just got me in here, dancing. They are not going to hire me. They get ready to hire all these white kids. They’re not going to hire me. So instead of me dancing, one more time being that jigaboo, performing, I was not doing that. So I just walked up and go, are you using any black girls at all? Cause you got two light-skinned girls over there and you got me. I got a lot of stuff I can do. So you can get me my 8×10 and I can go do my laundry. Thank you. So I did that for a few auditions, like, because they would keep you all day long, dance you to death and then don’t hire you. And then when you see the show, there’s nobody that looks like you. So why are you using this audition, got wise and was like, shut it down.  

Dominique: I get it, and, and I love that. You’ve always demanded that respect because a lot of times we go into a room. So like thankful and extra thankful to be there. And you know, it’s something to be grateful. Of course you’re grateful to be in that room, but you also have to know once you’re in that room, a lot of times people are just looking at your sauce. They’re just looking at your vibe to be like, Ooh, we can get inspired by that. And they will not use you. You know? Um, one thing that I feel like I would tell my younger self is the baggage that you carry into the room is your baggage alone, but it also makes your arm stronger. So, so a lot of times, um, you know, when you come in as the quote, unquote token you, the weight of your community in the world, on your shoulders, you feel like you have to do you feel like you have to be the best one, you know?  And that’s just what it is straight up and down. But what I also realize is I’m the only one carrying these bags because sometimes I walk into those rooms and the people are not expecting that of me. So I realized my baggage turned into my super power because I feel like, myself and maybe you both might agree with me. That becomes what keeps you going that drive to be that, that drive to be in them, splits that drive to make sure you can effectively communicate what you want to communicate, whether it’s with dance or your mouth, you know? And, and I felt like that’s what I would tell my younger self. Like the very thing that you think is, is weighing you down is the thing that’s making you stronger to rise above everybody else.  

Eartha: Yes. And that in a work, you know, start that as soon as you possibly can building yourself up, talking to yourself, look in the mirror and talk to yourself. I made that a habit and it’s worked for me, you know, to, you have to stand strong in your power. You have to, because it’s just, you, really. So you must work hard to preserve you and be stronger in whatever you do.  

Dominique: Yes, exactly. No, I mean, that makes the most sense in, in turning it on his head. Sometimes it’s literally just, you like. Who is bring all this madness causing all this drama. Its just you. So you have to shut all of that and just be like, I just want to be my best self today. That’s what it is. Speaking of speaking of best self, a hundred percent agree, go for it. Will, do you have anything to add before?  

Big Will: I mean, I was saying was that like, you know, taking care of yourself, especially with, you know, mental health, you know, being such an issue recently with COVID and you know, not having that, that extra source of dance nowadays and you know, that human connection, I would say, just making sure it’s okay to take a break sometimes as well, because we always become so stressed with, you know, the type of work we’re putting ourselves into, like you said with, okay, I have to be the best in the room. I have to get everything right. And if you don’t, you actually burn yourself out a lot faster. So it’s okay to take a step back, breathe a little bit meditate or whatever you need to do and say, nice little prayer before you head into rehearsal again, and step in like a new man, you know. 

Dominique: Exactly. And I feel like a lot of times as dancers, we don’t take care of our dance injuries. And you know, now we’ve been better about body maintenance, but I like to think about, we need to take care of the injuries on the inside too, because we’ll stop rehearsal. If somebody sprains their ankle or if you’re out and you need to do rehab. But a lot of times we don’t work on the inside to be able to stay in those rooms, and to fight those giants. Because you know, a lot of times whether it’s just black community or, you know, dance community, the trauma response is to be yelled at into greatness or to be berated into greatness. You know? And a lot of times I just refuse. I said, the trauma stops with me. I’m not going to pass it forward now, Motivational screaming different. Yes you can do it. Anything, anything beyond that? I’m not going to scare you into greatness. I want you to be so great that it slips out. 

Eartha: But I am going to tell you if you’re lazy, 

Dominique: for sure

Big Will: We will call you out. Yeah. 

Eartha: But I, that whole thing of degrading dancers and tearing up apart, I was never into that because you build them up better because they want to please you, they want to be there for you. They’re there in the room. So why strip them apart like that? Those shows and those people that do that just make me so uncomfortable because nothing in the world deserves that it’s all, if you come from love, you can imagine so many things that you can accomplish together. If everybody just came from a loving space, that’s how I feel. If you came from a loving space and your approach to getting someone to hit that Arabesque or to, to hit that combination, the more love that you put into that and support, it’s going to be much better than just strip somebody apart, burn them out and then toss them to the side. You know? So, and I would say to every dancer, find a strong center you have got to. And just for, for your life, just like how you trained and just piggybacking on what you said Dom. Just like how you trained for this moment. You have to train your insides. You will have to find a core. You gotta believe in something other than all the external stuff, because that is, what’s going to take you through that. You believe there’s a core in you that you are not swayed by all this other stuff, because darling, that’s what a lot of mental issues come in because you’re being pulled to and fro you’re all these things on social media. People are saying this about you it’s. Have a core honey, find a belief in something. If it’s out a P or a pair of glasses, I don’t know, honey. Find your life, and hold onto it. You know, that is a must  

Dominique: You better preach Eartha and catch a mean step on this podcast real quick. But no, that is, that is the truest statement of all statements and keeping in the love sphere. What do you enjoy most about living in your body, as this being as this Brown being, as this person who walks about the earth, being able to change other people’s lives through dance and speaking love into everybody, and this I’m just going to open it up. W what, because a lot of times we talk about the trauma and the bad and the obstacles, but let’s talk about what we love about ourselves  

Eartha: Life experience, the knowledge that I’ve gotten and who I am right now. And that Will, I am like three times your age, baby. So my, so I look at you big with that little face and I go here to be a beast when he’s 60 because your, everything comes from that. And that’s in my skin right now. I could, I, I feel like a queen because I lived through, I’ve gotten over, I’ve crossed so many bridge, birth, none. And I’m like, I know who I am even more so now I’m good to people. I support people. I’m- I’m so comfortable and so happy in my skin. And I’m, you know, I had a hard time when I was coming up in this dark skin, a very hard time, but I am loving it. I wish I was three shades. Even darker. 

Dominique: Come on now. Come on. 

Eartha: So, no, I feel because of all of that, I’ve been through because of my experience, this pot that I carry underneath the skin, I feel joy. I feel good. Even through the COVID and all of that has gotten to renew. I am, and I just feel really good right now. That’s a great question. And I love it. I feel really good in my skin. 

Dominique: She said I feel good all over. I wish we had that queued up  All right. Will, same question.  

Big Will: I think the one thing that just like, like she said, with like the history and everything that she’s gone through, I think what that makes me feel good within my skin, as well as seeing the people I’ve looked up to, you know, and seeing them, you know, make a pathway for people that are in my generation. Like Eartha, we probably wouldn’t have caught as far if it wasn’t for people that were in your generation, I’m a hundred percent thankful for that. I think that’s the one thing that I love so much about it is that there’s, we have so much history, so much history that, you know, I’m always in the room willing to learn. I come in there, I’m never a teacher. I’m always a student. I think that’s my mindset I have, because I don’t have the many years that you guys have. So that’s the one thing I love is that we have so much history and I feel like one day I’m ready to be a part of that history. And that’s what I love about myself. I love about my skin is that I know within 20 years, I’m going to be having the same conversation to the next team. 

Eartha: Passing it, always passing it forward, always giving back and passing it forward. You know? And that’s the thing. This young man is talking about the history and it makes me feel like. It makes me know that there is hope, that there is hope because I see kids have no clue of what, what, before them, no respect of who went before them. Don’t know ’em, don’t care and just going on with life. But it’s the ones, the ones that care, the ones that research, the ones that know you’re always going to have more on it than the rest. And those people usually, you know, fade out because they’re not, they’re not keeping in alignment with what is true. And that’s an issue.

Dominique: A big issue. So this question, um, let’s go superficial. I like that. I can wear any color and make it look good. I like the fact that I can change my hairstyle every single day If I wanted to. I like that. If I comb out my hair, it stands up to try to meet God,  

Eartha: The sun.  

Dominique: I love that whenever I step into the room, just because of my skin tone people automatically think I’m the hottest thing and the coolest thing at the same time. But on a, on a deeper level, I love that the blood coursing through my veins, um, is built with rhythm and it’s built with strength and it’s built with being grounded. And it’s built with a language in a spirit that is only oral traditions. I love being Griot. I love being able to do a simple nod and everybody knows what that means. I love that. The way I clap my hands commands people to pay attention. I love how deep my voice is. And when I’m on the phone, I guess people automatically know I’m a black man. No, but more importantly, I love spaces like this because this is what the African-American community does. This is family. This reminds me of talking to my family members. It reminds me of talking to my aunts and my cousins and my grandparents and my younger brothers and sisters, and, you know, new family members to literally pass on and to give love. Because a lot of times people don’t have mentors. You know, they don’t have somebody they can go to, they don’t have somebody that they can pass on things to. And I love to have mentors older than myself, because I love to just go to people and go like, Hey, have you been through this before? And then I also love having people who are younger than I am to be like, look, this is what I went through. Let me, let me help you out. So you don’t go through that same thing. And, uh, you know, speaking of that,  

Eartha: The young ones and the young ones are because I have no clue Will about how this whole social media, it gets on my damn nerves. So when you guys, you know, because my daughter, Élija, I, you know, she comes in and she’ll help me mom know that you don’t want to say that you want to take that out. So, you know, and just to see the power and the strength, it only, it takes me back to look at you guys and go, damn, did I have all that energy, did I just keep moving all the time? And my older ones, my mentor say, yeah, we used to say, could you sit your ass down? We’re on a five Eartha, take your 5 Eartha! so you know that it keeps me, um, energized your, your generation. When I say your, I would say, most of your generation, you, and a couple of other people that I’ve met so strong and so fierce and so committed and knowing, have intention on where you’re going, I love that, you know, and then I look at some others in your generation and I go, why, why is this happening? And who’s not helping them. And there’s no guidance there, you know? And I want us, I want to help everybody, but you can’t because they can’t be 9 million of you Will because then nobody will know what the other side looks like. So, but I want 9 million of you. 

Big Will: I will say. It’s hard from my, from my perspective is growing up in this generation, I’ve seen so many people come and go. I’ve seen the different transformations of people. And I even had a moment when I was 16, 17, and I lost myself. And I think that’s what makes me so grounded and so humble. And so, you know, straight forward it’s because I’ve seen it all. I’ve seen people a hundred percent get lost and never find their way back, or they lose their passion for example, within dance. And they can’t find it again. And they’re only doing it for the money or only doing it for the views. And they know it hurts to see that. And there’s times where I have to call certain people out and be like, Hey, what you’re doing, isn’t right. I just want to make sure, are you good within yourself because you’re not posting like how you used to, or you’re not acting the way you used to, or, you know, just a simple, Hey, I haven’t seen you in a while. Let me, let me talk to you just because we kind of get lost in that social media world. And I just have to make sure, like, especially with my friends and my closest people around me, that everybody that I know is so career driven and so focused because it’s so easy to just lose track of that.  

Eartha: Yeah. And, and, you know, um, water seeks its own level and the cup, this is, I’m just getting this from my grandfather, the company you keep, birds of a feather flock together. The company you keep is what they see. So you want to always surround yourself with people who are going and who are like-minded. They call it equally yolked. You know, some people aligned yourself with the people who are doing what you want to do, because it’s so easy to be, you know, go off the path. You know, you gotta stay on that path.  

Dominique: Yeah. It’s extremely important. Especially when you go into a situation saying, this is exactly who I am, and this is what I’m doing. And you get met with some challenges where people go, okay, so we want you to either choose this or choose that. What are you going to do? And in those moments are when you really realize that you’re made of the good stuff and really what you’re made of and go, okay, well, I can do this and do that. Or I can remain who I am. And a lot of those moments, I think people have to remember that the business will test you. And it is good to have people around you who have either been there or are supporting you through it, you know? Boom. Okay. So, um, maybe a last little question here. Um,  

Eartha: I wanted to ask something really quick. 

Dominique: Sure. Go for it. 

Eartha: Um, um, how do you guys feel about, um, uh, say a film comes up and it’s African dance or it’s, um, Lindy Hop or something like that. And someone not of that culture gets the chance to work on that project. And no one of that culture is on that project. How do you guys feel? Have you ever experienced it? I know it happens. So say, um, say I’m doing The Village and it’s all African and Dunham dance and they get someone that is not of that culture of that race or whatever, to choreograph or direct this thing. And it’s, how do you feel about that? Um, do you think it’s just an art artistic choice, or do you think that, you know, that  

Dominique: I can jump in here? Um, I’ve had, I’ve been torn between both of those things because, um, a lot of times the things that I choreograph, I wouldn’t say a lot that’s alive. Let me bring that back. Things that I choreograph did not start with my culture, but sometimes I like to see it through the lens of my culture. Like for example, I choreographed Oklahoma, the all black version of Oklahoma at Denver Center for the performing arts. And what was nice was it was a golden age musical, but I saw it through the lens of the African-American community at that time. So the difference is of course, I put things that the African-American community did in that choreography. Um, but then I also came back and choreographed a play that was, um, mainly about Jewish the Jewish community. And it was very interesting because people were asking me like, what does it feel like to choreograph for something that’s not a part of your community? And I had to really A. put my wig back on asked that question and I had to go well with the, the story that’s being told. I can only do the parallels from the African-American community. I know joy, I know transcendence. I know what it feels like to be beaten down. So the only thing I can do is do my research with that culture, then try to parallel the human experience. Now, on the other hand of that same argument, I feel like if it’s not in you, pass it to the side to somebody who’s going to kill the game. Because a lot of times when it comes to certain art forms, um, or certain jobs that are, that are passed to me, I will gladly pass them to somebody else because I feel like, the way that I felt choreographing for Oklahoma, everybody should feel that way. Everybody should have a chance to choreograph where they step into themselves to go. I can’t make the wrong choice with movement because it is so inside of me that there’s nothing I can do wrong. I can step here. That’s something that would happen. I can do that. That’s something that would have happened. And, um, it, it rubs me the wrong way. Sometimes when I see jobs that people get where it’s like, you know, you didn’t respect the culture, you didn’t research the culture, you didn’t, you know, nothing about it. At least in that moment, bring somebody on of that community to be co choreographer or somebody of importance to open that door instead of just taking it for yourself. And then looking up on YouTube and being like, I think I can do this. You thought wrong. Now it’ll get done. It’ll get done. But at the end of the day, what will get done with such gravitas as that would take for somebody from the community?  

Big Will: Yeah. A hundred percent agree with that. Well, they get done with such grace with such effort, you know, with the right intentions of it. And there has been jobs where, especially for me being the dancer, if it’s someone from that community that knows the art style and the art form, and really knows how to teach it, then I’m learning at the end of the day. For example, I didn’t know much of Lino, the African movies when it comes to like Gara Gara and like the shotgun and all that kind of stuff. I didn’t know anything really about it. I’ve seen it, but I didn’t know how to like, not perfectly do it, but I didn’t know the techniques of it and the form of how to do it correctly. And I was thankful that there was a choreographer named Sherrie Silver, who was the choreographer for This is America with Childish Gambino, You know, and when I tell you, we had maybe a four hour rehearsal on just the movement alone, not even the choreography, just the movement, because she was like, if we’re doing this, you need to make sure you’re doing this right. And that’s a main reason why I say that you have to have somebody that knows that art form that knows that art style, because you’re going to, at the end of the day, they’re teaching it and they’re bringing down that knowledge to somebody else. And if they’re teaching it wrong to you, that means that you’re going to perform it wrong and bring it down to the next person. And it’s just going to keep getting worse and worse and worse. 

Eartha: Watered Down.  

Big Will: So I’ll keep getting watered down 

Dominique: and lost in the sauce.  

Eatha: Yeah. And it’s like, it’s, you know, we have to make sure that, um, we have to speak out because, um, our culture is shrinking because so many people have appropriated it. So many people have taken it and it’s, it’s being taught and being watered down. So we have to be, um, we have to be, uh, more mindful on how much we get at, this is me speaking. Um, how mindful of how much we give, because they’re taking so much that now we look at it and we don’t even, it doesn’t even look like our city  

Dominique: And Profiting greately and they’re profiting.  

Eartha: Oh, yes. Oh yes. I mean, I’m looking at, take one, for instance, twerking, it’s called it’s twerking, but it’s African movement. It’s Africans, it’s all African, all of that stuff. It’s African, and now I see other people doing it and I’m like, okay, well there’s goes another step.  

Dominique: Well, good. Well, this leads me. This leads me to another thought that I randomly had. Um, because I know what steps I’ve been taking. And, you know, a lot of times, especially with everything that’s happened in 2020 and a great awakening for a good amount of groups of people, even though, you know, other people have known for a while, um, what steps are you taking or are we taking personally to decentralize white supremacy in the dance community? Like what, what different ways of thinking have entered into your brain that you would like to share if it’s anything new or it could just be what you’ve been doing?  

Eartha: I think it’s what I’ve been doing, you know? Um, it’s just what I’ve been doing because I’m going to call it as I see it, you know, I’m just, I, you know, and that goes for anything like that goes for anything. Um, I just finished working on this project and, um, Bob Fosse inspired. There’s no way that I’m going to take Bob Fosse’s work and do Bob Fosse’s work without getting the proper consent from the right people. The man is gone. We have to respect the legacy of what he’s left behind. So I reached out to Valerie Pettiford

Dominique: Who we all love and know 

Eartha: Valerie and I were in the same class and performing arts. So we were partners going across the Memorial.  So I reached out to her and she introduced me to Nicole. When I talked to the Verdon Fosse Legacy, sent them all the tapes that I was doing, Valerie came into rehearsals. And I knew when I did Frug, as soon as I went into Frug, she said, I said, I know, I know, I know I was just thought I could get away with it, but I’m constantly going to respect, um, other people’s, uh, the integrity of their work. I’m constantly going to say, you know, that shit came from somebody else and you are dreadful to use it. That is not, you know what I mean, if you’re going to do it, say that you’re inspired by someone who, you know, you got that piece of work from, I was inspired by, but you’re not going to do that step verbatim. You’re not going to do the exact choreography that, that man did 50 years ago, just because he’s gone, does not mean that his legacy is still not alive. And that should be for anyone. You respected that the Jewish community, because you were so close to that, you know, you know what that is. So I just ask that people do the right thing, you know, give credit where credit is due and just do the right thing. Stop stealing from people. Yeah.  You know, and let people know where you got it from or who inspired you, or, you know, just respect the culture of people’s, um, work, the body of that respect, you know, it should go just, it should be that across the board. So yeah, I’m constantly on the lookout for that. That’s like,  

Big Will: I, a hundred percent agree on that because of social media. There’s so many ways people would try to get away with it by not having that choreo credit or saying, Oh, I really got this choreography from the music video but I’m going to act like it’s my own and people on the internet when they don’t know their own research, they see it. And usually you don’t, you don’t see a post and then you go on YouTube and try to find it. You just see the posts, look at it and say, Oh, this is cool. And you expect it’s their choreography. So if they don’t say it, you assume it. And it’s really just a few words like, Oh, that’s the only thing I have to do is just add a few words. It’s really that careful that can change the entire input of the video. So I understand that point of view, and I think it’s also, at least for me is, you know, whenever I see a quote or a dance quote, like for example, uh, one of my friends posted a whole essay for about dancers and about, you know, when it comes into teaching, are you really taking the right class? That’s going to help you upgrade yourself and elevate yourself, or you’re really just taking the class because of the views or taking the class because of this. And I love reposting it because it’s going to get my viewers in the right mindset and kind of like in a way, inspire them to say, okay, make sure they’re doing the right thing rather than it just saying, Oh, okay. He’s just an Instagram person. And I just happened to follow him. No, he’s an Instagram person. I want to follow in his footsteps. I want to follow in his, his pathway. I want to be inspired by him. And I think that’s the one thing I can at least do for my part is doing everything through social media.  

Dominique: Yes. Great, great. I love it. Um, I’ve talked about it on this podcast before, but one main thing I’ve been trying to do lately is, um, keep asking questions and keep asking why and digging and digging. Uh, one thing I talked about with Dana was ballet and how I’ve had some minor tiffs with people who wanted me to teach. And their philosophy is ballet is the foundation of every dance style. And I had some pushback because I said ballet is good for what ballet is good for. Ballet is the foundation of derivatives of ballet. But if it’s African dance or if it’s salsa, or if it’s anything dealing with any, uh, Bollywood, or if it’s, you know, any indigenous dances that has nothing to do with ballet. Not a thing, like even if you tap and you’re a hoofer and you do all these other things, ballet may not help that, at all, not at all at all. So then if you dig a little bit deeper, it’s like, why does the White art form have to help the Brown art forms? You know, especially with all of that stuff, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s just, you know, mind boggling. And then sometimes you have to relearn and unlearn things that you’ve put out there, because there were many times where I would watch a hip hop dancer and go, Oh, if they only had ballet technique, no, they have a technique. They have hip hop technique. That is something totally different from ballet. Ballet will not help that. Now, if anybody wants to broaden their horizon, sure. By all means, take everything. But as much as I’m telling you to take ballet, I’m telling you to take modern and I’m telling you to take African too, you know, because a lot of things came from those dance styles. So that’s one thing that I had to do to decentralize white supremacy for me in, in my thinking.  

Eartha: Yeah, that, that ballet run is a great one because, um, I’m not calling names, but I have, um, there’s one school that I keep saying. This child is not going to be a ballerina. She’s in the class, she’s crying. She hates it. But she’s major in African. She kills modern, tap outrageously why to make her suffer five hours a week doing this. She’s got the booty, she’s got the boobs, you know, but this has got to be good for her. This is what she needs is. I said, she’s never going to do that. She’s never going to go into SAB. So why make the child suffer. They don’t hear it. They don’t see it because that’s really good Dom because that is not the core and the end all for a lot of our techniques for a lot of the things that we do.  

Dominique: And I think it’s just being mindful of that too, all the way around all the way around.  

Big Will: I’ve never, ever seen it like that. So I’m happy. You you’ve even brought it up in this podcast because my whole entire life, a lot of people have always told me, ballet is the core of everything, ballet’s the core, all styles. And then the older I get, the more realize we have Chicago footwork, we have light feet. We have all these other styles within the hip hop world. We have, you know, Bboy, what does that have to do with ballet?  

Dominique: They both have a B and that’s it.  

Big Will: They’re completely different. I’m like, what does that have to do with ballet? And I’m learning these styles. You know, I was training in Chicago footwork for about a few months before the choreographer went on tour. And I was like, what does this have to do with ballet? It always boggled my mind. So I’m really happy you brought that up because I wasn’t aware of that.  

Dominique: Yeah. It’s just, again, it’s just something, if you keep asking the why and keep digging with a lot of different things, I think that’s what leads you to the gold. And the goal is the, the digging and the digging and speaking of digging, I’m glad I’ve dug into both of you too, because you’ve just made my day speaking to both of you. Um, I appreciate both of you for this, this talk. Hopefully we’ll have many more on the podcast and off the podcast and we encourage everybody to do that too, because this is how you learn. This is how you grow. This is how you learn your community. And again, I want to give a special, special thank you to Eartha Robinson and Big Will Simmons and a special thank you for opening up the space to Dana Wilson, with the Words That Move Me podcast. Um, yeah. So thank you very much. Or is there any partying thing?  

Eartha: Thanks for inviting me. Thanks for inviting us onto the podcast. It’s just been absolutely amazing. The time has gone by so fast. So we know we have more to talk about and another.  

Big Will: Yes. Well, thank you guys for all of your knowledge and your wisdom within just an hour. I know I can talk to you guys for way longer than we can get into depth about it, but in reality, I just want to say thank you for my generation to yours for just, you know, paving the way of the way we are now within our dance industry and, you know, creating so many roles that are now opened up to us. We want to say thank you to both of you.  

Dominique: Thank you. I appreciate it. I appreciate it so much. And on that note, we’re going to stop it here. Remember Words that Move Me Podcast  

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

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

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

Quick Links:

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

Terry’s email: terralzzzz@aol.com

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

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

Transcript:

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

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

Ava: Is Ava Flav here with you.  

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

Ava: Yes. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No, not always a loss. 

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

My sister, friends. Yay.

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

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

I think we shall let’s do it. 

Enjoy everybody. 

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

Ava: Yes. Well hello Terry Santiel, yeah. 

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

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

Somebody who’s never met you? 

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

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

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

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

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

That’s amazing.  

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

Literally across the street 

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

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

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

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

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

That’s a good name

TCU. 

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

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

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

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

That is remarkable. I just think thats so cool

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What has stayed the same? 

Um, nothing.

My, my drum set stayed the same  

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

That set up is nice. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You transcend generations 

So how, how is it that you do that?  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I agree absolutely 

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

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

You know, I’ve been torn since forever.  

Did Terry did Jesus’s Birthday Tour.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You set your foundation. 

POP OUT:

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

**

But go ahead. What was your question?  

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

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

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

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

That residual income is real. 

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

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

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

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

Real people, yes!  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That came from Marty. 

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

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

Its all you’re going to stare at 

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

Its snot 

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

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

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

She farted, but she..

I did not, I did not expect that.

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

Silent, giant hahaha  

So the rooms filled up amazing air. Right.  

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

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

Its a part of the audition.  

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

What did you do? 

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

Incredible 

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

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

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

My, well, it happened,  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Say that again. 

Did you know that? Ava has a little one. 

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

And AJ. 

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

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

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

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

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

I Got it. 

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

It’s safer, safer for you.  

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

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

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

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

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

Can we find you on instagram? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I may have been holding the camera  

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

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

Everything in moderation.

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

I mean, I love you so much.  

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

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

Thank you. Love you too. 

Love you so much. Bye bye.  

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

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

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

Pretty incredible.

So good. Um, what were your biggest takeaways?  

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

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

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

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

I didn’t ask, you know what? 

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

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

We had to research. 

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

I mean they are a fountain of youth. 

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

Thank you for having me! This was fun.  

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

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