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.
Ah yep. Today, no matter where you are, I am bringing you to the front yard of my friend and mentor and legendary choreographer, Marty Kudelka! Yes, we are going deep into the Valley where the sky is blue and the birds chirp and garbage trucks squeal like lot of squealing garbage trucks. Terrifying sounds. Thank God for editing. So Marty and I talk about specific people and performances during this episode and I want to say right now at the front of it that all of those people, places and performances are going to be linked in the show notes of this episode, episode 18 of my website. So if you’re interested in any of those people, places, things and shows, then head on over to theDanawilson.com/podcast and search for episode 18.
Oh also every podcast episode is available in video form on YouTube seven days after the podcast comes out here. So this episodes YouTube video will definitely include links to the memorable moments. Well at least the ones that were caught on tape. Um, so be sure to check that out as well. All right, before we talk to Marty, I want to talk to you. How are you feeling? After last week’s episode on processing emotions, I have been making it a habit to ask how are you feeling instead of how are you doing, how are you feeling gives you an opportunity to actually process and check in with your body and the feelings inside of it instead of just reporting the usual. I’m good. How are you? I personally, right now I’m feeling exhausted like a particular brand of exhausted, throbbing knee’s, kind of an achy back. That means I’ve been dancing and probably not using my abdominals as much as I should be, but Oh, speaking of dancing a lot, my win this week is actually a community win. Over the weekend, The seaweed sisters taught for the movement lifestyle’s 24 hour move-a-thon fundraiser, and as of this moment, as of the recording of this episode, the studio has raised over $63,000. Holy smokes, huge win, and if you’re listening to this podcast at the time of its release, then they’re still accepting donations. So if you can head over to ML’s GofundMe. All right, now it is your turn to share a win. What’s going well in your world? Hit me.
Awesome. I am glad that you’re winning. Congratulations. Now Marty and I cover a lot in this episode. Everything from working on the trolls movies and doing things that he never thought he’d do in a million years to several strolls down different memory lanes. Wait, is that a thing? Are they like memory street memory Avenue, memory circle. Anyways, we go there. So I hope you’re ready and I hope you enjoy this conversation with Marty Kudelka.
Dana: All right, Marty, Dog, Dog!
Marty: Dana Dane Dog!
Welcome to the podcas t, my friend. This is long overdue.
Marty: Absolutely. Thanks, Homie, thanks for having me.
I’m really stoked about this because A, uh, you’re my dear friend and also mentor, but B, you are probably the most mentioned person on the podcast, especially when I’m talking about career and, professional life because you have played such a key role in my professional life. So there’s that. Um, but before we get too deep, I would love for you very quickly to introduce yourself and tell us where you are right now.
What’s up? This is Marty Kudelka checking in team Roast, you know, we sizzle the most, you know how it be, I’ m in, the bird cage, my own little Disneyland here in Valley village, California. Talking to one of my favorite humans on earth, Dana, Dana dog, Wilson,
The crowd goes wild. “Ahhh”, so you, you did not mention in your bio that you are, uh, one of the greatest choreographers ever to have lived. And I think I found that out on the internet, so it must be true. Um, but you are also a creative director and a teacher. Oh, and I live on auto row, so we’re getting some automobile sounds today. Some people are not honoring the social distancing today I can tell cause it’s beautiful outside and there are way more car and motorcycle sounds than usual. Um, but back to you, uh, how long have you been choreographing for?
Um, before I knew what like choreography was even, I didn’t know what I was doing. I called it making up routines or putting routines together. I believe my first one was when I was 14 years old. I was in middle school and it was for a talent show and me and one other girl named Brandy Davis. I still, I still keep in touch with her too. And um, we dance to Rob Bass “It Takes Two” at our talent show and, and I’m sorry I wasn’t in middle school, I was a freshmen in high school, which was even more scary because literally I’m the young kid on the block, little white guy up on stage with hammer pants on like doing the running man for 400 8 counts. So that was my first time I ever put together something. And then I started kind of just teaching my friends right after that. Mmm. Kind of a trade off. Like they would get, keep me from getting beat up at school and I would teach them dance, kind of thing. And um, that was my first intro into choreography and teaching, if you will, because then I saw, well, I can like make some money or at least get ahead doing something that I like to do. Um, so that was my intro. It’s not your typical story, but that’s really, that’s, that’s to me, that’s when I started choreographing because even though I didn’t know what an eight count was or a bar of music was, I knew when the song changed, you should change your steps, you know, that was kind of common sense. So I was putting the stuff down yeah. Since I was 14 and now I’m a lot older than that
Truth. Yeah, true. Just a few years. Um, so there’s a classic case of learn by doing where you like didn’t go to school for this or you didn’t come up through a competition convention. Typical studio.
Um, there’s going to be a trash truck. Oh, sorry. Got it. That happens out here on the bird’s nest.
That’s a trash truck. That is a trash truck.
So I am lucky enough to have been part of your creative process a handful of times. And by handful, I mean a lot. Um, and, but for people who are listening, who might not have met you or worked for you or even taken your class, can you explain a little bit of your creative process from the moment you hear the song to then seeing it danced on other bodies or on a stage?
Yeah, I mean we, you know, you know firsthand we’d be here until next Thursday if I really answered that question in depth from A to Z. So I’ll try to make it like real somewhat quicker.
Give us the bullets.
Yeah. Um, I mean first comes, it depends, that’s a hard question because it’s so broad because it depends if it’s for one single number or if it’s for a, you know, club show where it’s 10 numbers or it’s for a tour that has, you know, a giant stage and production value, you know, so it, it depends. But say just for, as an example of music video, we’ll base it off that. So if I, once I get the song, the first thing I’m going to want to do is learn this song as well as I can and, and then create like the basic plan of what I’m going to do. Mmm. If it was for class, I would just start figuring out what I’m going to. Which part of the music you don’t want to dance too. And then kind of make a up plan comes from music video. Before I did anything, I would probably ask for the treatment. If There was a treatment at that point too, figuring out what the story is or if it’s just a performance video or just dancing or whatever. So that way I know I’m not doing extra stuff. Mmm. Work smarter, not harder. So those are two different versions. So going back, I’m going to keep flipping it now. Back to video or a class. Yeah. I would know what I’m going to dance to already. Then I’m going to stand up. I actually did this last night, Which is crazy. I didn’t think about that. Mmm. So I’m making something up. So I listened to the song and I already knew the song really well, but I haven’t heard it in about shoot over 15 years easily. But I put it my headphones in and started listening to it and like, okay, made a decision. This is the part I’m going to dance to. I already pretty much knew it got up, I started moving around until I have like a little at least a couple, a few eight counts. Then I’ll take a break, then I’ll listen to it again and listen to what I don’t have. Then stand up, try to fill in the gaps and they come slowly but surely like where I stand now morning with the routine I have like the first two eight counts. Then there’s like two, two and a half counts missing and then another eight count, three eight counts missing another four. Mmm. Once I do that, once I have enough then I like to call in the troops, which is you know the, YOU, the Ivan, the Nats, like call you guys in and start teaching it to you. I still haven’t seen it by this point by the way, but once I, call you guys in, and then, um, A. I’m getting to learn how to teach it. And B. I’m seeing it on another human and deciding whether I like it or not or what to change or what to add. Or you guys may give me an idea on how you finish and go into something. So it’s a big puzzle basically. You know, you never just do the puzzle like this. You know, sorry, I know it’s a podcast from up to down or you know what I mean? You have to fill out the frame and then you start making like parts over here and parts that you know are easier to do. And that’s the same thing with putting together a routine regardless whether it’s for a video or class
Dana: Solid. That’s a great answer. You set up the segue so beautifully. Thank you for that. Um, Marty basically wrote the book titled “work smarter not harder” and I want to go through that book now and name the chapters if we could. And you already, you, you, you set up a few of those. But I have to tell people on the outside right now that I sent Marty a little warmup text before we got on the phone today. I was like, Hey, these are some of the things I want to talk about. This is kind of the, the outline, you know, we’ll, we’ll keep it loose and we can flow, but I definitely want to do blah blah blah. I want to hear about bleh be ready to answer blah and dah dah. And you wrote me back, I’m going to pull up the text also at the end
And now that you just asked me the question I’m wishing I would have looked at it more
Um, at the, at the last thing I asked you is anything else you want to cover or specifically not talk about and your response was “anything you want and I barely read this BTW finger pointing up. I just like, I just like to freestyle these days.” So that’s, that’s pretty much where we’re at. We’re freestyling. Okay. So based on what you just said, a you make sure you have all the information and you are really good. You actually taught me this, uh, about how to identify the people that have the information just by watching. Very good at sitting back and watching like, Oh, that’s my guy for this. Oh, that’s the dude for this. Oh, here’s the one you want to have in the room for this. So you’re, you’re great at identifying the sources of information and then you’re a great listener. Actually, I kind of wanted to play a game later, but we’ll, well we’ll see if we get there. If you had to put a price on your most valuable asset, you, Marty Kudelka A. what would the price be? And B. what is that asset? I could even, I could even call it a part of your body. What is the most part of your body?
Uh, my ears.
Boom. I was going to say one, two, three and have us say it at the same time.
Oh yeah. That’s easy. Yeah. There’s no amount of money though. Yeah. Ears are like none other. It’s true. Justin’s ears are really good too. I can’t lie. That dude, you know he is a freak. That guy hears stuff and I mean he has to be good because of who he is at paying attention to his surroundings because you know with crazy fans or whatever, he’s got to stay aware so that that that’s helped him do that. But for some reason I always look the same way. I mean I just want to know what’s going on around me. Maybe cause I got in trouble when I was younger, you know, so I was always on the lookout but it helps in what we do specifically. Like that is a big thing of working smarter, not harder. Like if you pay attention like what.. the main.. I think it should be called “work smarter, not harder. Dot dot, dot. It’s just common sense” because it is, if you use common sense like it’s not that hard. What we do. It’s really, it’s really not. And it’s not, if you just pay attention, it’s not hard to figure out who is the person that needs that you go to for this or this or like you just said like it’s not that hard if you just pay attention. But a lot of times it’s dancers and even you know, choreographers and directors, we get so into what we’re doing that we don’t sit down for a second and pay attention. A lot of people these days want, they feel like the more that I do it, the better I’m going to get it. Like even Right. That’s the same principle as just seeing the layout of whatever you’re doing.
I love that. It’s an excellent lesson and we are all receiving a masterclass in it right now. Okay, so get the info. Be watchful, listen. Of course. And then the next one I think that you are really well prepped for and well set up with is this nature and then the skill and they are different. The nature and the nurture, um, of being a freestyler, I think that you are a freestyler like in your DNA, but then it’s also a muscle in you and in your process that has gotten really, really strong. Um, how, how do you think starting as a freestyler, uh, contributed to your workflow right now?
Freestyle helped me. I mean, it helped mold my style. That’s still how I started. Like last night when I started my routine, I didn’t say I’m to do a, Mmm, what is the first move that I do? I do like these jazz hands to my stomach, right. And my foot goes out and in
And does it look like this, ‘dah doom?’
A little bit. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re so good.
I wonder if you could talk it to me and I could do it. Okay.
Of course I could, I just talked about this on my IG live the other day, but I’ll, I taught you and I then at one point sitting down like four, I think it was four eight counts and y’all got up and did it. Perfect. We should do that again.
Yeah, let’s definitely do that again.
But when I, when I started this move, I didn’t get up, Off my couch and say, Oh I’m going to put some jazz hands to my stomach. Like I just, I knew where that were. The first count is seven, eight ‘and a’. And, all I knew is I’m starting on the ‘and a’ after the eight and then I just did that and it, it was like, Oh that feels cool. I know it looks cool cause I’ve done it before. So, okay. That’s my starting point. And then from there I just let my body go. But if I wouldn’t have, I had that training growing up and the freestyle aspect, like in the freestyle world, then I don’t know what I would be doing. Like I don’t know if people who aren’t, have never been in that freestyle world. I don’t know how they, if they go into a studio and just move through a bunch of moves, I have no idea what their creative process is because I’m not them. And I’ve never been rooms with people like that. I’ve always been around people who are similar and come from similar backgrounds, which is who I gravitate towards, dancers, you know what I mean? People who can boogie and also do choreography.
Um, sneak attack. This is me opening the door and coming out of my little closet and introducing myself to you for the first time as a person who when we met nothing terrified me more than freestyling and learning choreography, this might’ve been why we got along well, right? As somebody who leads with freestyle might really do well by enhancing their team, by adding a person who remembers all the moves that gets spit out and can keep them or teach them or whatever. But um, it took you and some hard slap in the faces. Slap slap in the faces. No, I have one face, uh, slaps in the face of learning that that weakness needed to get stronger for me. One of them actually happened at your house? Um, it was right after, maybe not right, maybe not the same day, but shortly after the big audition for the future sex love tour. And there were like 500 people. Was it an open call or was it just selective call but mad people?
No, it was, it was, there was like 250 people, but it was, I selected all of them and then a few people, like five people crashed.
Okay. So massive audition. And we filmed the end and either the next day, the day, I don’t remember, we were watching the footage at your house and we had an unexpected intruder. I don’t even think he rang the bell. He probably like bolted up. Yeah, he just walked in, shout out b-boy kmel, Um, but I remember he looked at your TV and he was like, what is this garbage? And I was like, um, excuse me, this is the best dancers in Los Angeles. And he was like, those people are garbage. And he walked up to the TV and he pointed at Nick Bass and he was like, he was like, my shoe has more talent than that guy. And then he pointed at Misha and he was like, “Please! He’s okay. But mostly he’s garbage.” And then he pointed at the next guy and it was like, I’m sorry, wait a second. These people are like ridiculously talented. How could you even say that you’re delusional? And he, that was a bad idea, Little Dana,
It was a really, really bad idea. I remember it like it was yesterday. And I remember looking at you like, here she goes, look out man. She just had no idea what she did.
So what I did was redirect his, uh, b-boy battle mentality from other people to me. And he basically went, okay, and who are you? And I was like, I’m Dana. And he was like, uh, exactly. Who are you? And I was like, I’m a dancer. And he was like, no, you’re not. And it was like, uh, yeah, I am. And he was like, why? Why have I never seen you out? I’ve never seen you at the club. And I was like, that’s because I’m 18 or I was 19 at the time.
Maybe I was like, I’m not allowed to go to clubs. And then he laughed so hard, he probably started crying. He was like, you are not a dancer, you are a robot. You are a machine that has been trained to remember other people’s moves. You think you love dance, you don’t love dance. If you did, it would come from you and it would come without somebody else’s telling you to do it. And I didn’t cry at the time. I think I got home and really processed what he had just said. But I did cry hard about that and the thought that there might be some truth to it. And um, that definitely motivated me to explore freestyle and dancing strictly for myself. Not for accolades or a job or an award or recognition in some other form, but just because it feels freaking good. Um, and especially being so focused on winning at the industry, which is what my primary goal was at the time. I really hadn’t been thinking about that a lot. So that conversation woke me up. And also most of your classes at the time, especially, this is back in 2005, ended with a freestyle circle. Like that’s, it was a part of class. Like that was, that’s what what we did. Um, I don’t remember where this conversation started, but Oh, the importance of freestyle and me telling you that until we met, it really wasn’t a part of my daily life
That day, meeting Kmel. You knew Kmel?
Oh, I knew, I absolutely knew of him and I’d watched him get down. I remember a specific Youtube video where he battles three different people at one time and roasts them all. Uh, I’ll try to find that out. We’ll try to share that. But that’s another thing when I talk about you in addition to you just being, um, my mentor and the person that I worked for most directly in my life. But you’re also the person that introduced me to the most influential figures of my life. One of them is Toni Basil. Um, Kmel is included on that list. Popin’ Pete is on that list. Really. I got so fortunate in my timing and placement in meeting you that I learned, you know, the studio that I came from, we offered hip hop once a week and it was for an hour and after you change out of your leotard and tights, that’s really like 45 minutes. Um, but I got to LA, fell in love with your style and fell in love with street styles. And then you introduced me to Toni Basil who taught me everything I know about locking. You introduced me to Pete, taught me everything I know about popping and you introduced me and gave me an appetite for freestyling, which is really compounded and made me the dancer that I am today.
Absolutely. It’s a huge part in what you do.
You be roasting fools now.
Um, I have good teachers. We’re gonna say,
Dana: I hope you are digging, getting to know this guy. Marty is clearly a very laid back dude who loves a good story. He is captain cool in conversation and of course in his moves and we talked for a while about his public persona, about him being very friendly but not necessarily very accessible. After all, he is extremely busy working at the top of his field and to add to that list, he’s also a family man and to add to that list, he’s also a super sports enthusiast. We’ll get into that later. Marty was never really one to engage much in the social media sphere until now. He’s been doing daily or at least almost daily IG lives and I do want you to hear about that. Let’s get back into it.
To be honest, the first one I ever did was, was was Lucy, my daughter at a clipper game like years ago. So I had done one before but I’d never done one by myself and Mo and strictly to talk about dance. So it started of course when this quarantine started and I think I started on day one and I missed a couple of days, but I’m trying to do it every day as of now. I never thought I would be doing this in a billion years and I’m really, really enjoying it. You know, we don’t just talk about dance on there. Like I had kmel, on the other day and we were just talking about real life stuff and stuff that we had done back for the day. In the end, people were loving it.
Yeah. Like a peek into your world, right? It’s like this is your house, this is the you, this is unfiltered. This is uncensored. And it’s,
Yeah, it’s, it is. It’s cool. It’s, it’s wild though. Um, I’ve been being brave and being, I haven’t seen a lot of other people doing this and cause whenever I’m on their Instagram, but I, I accept whoever, like if somebody requests me and I don’t know them, I’ll still pick up the request. And I’ve had some couple of funny experiences.
I can only imagine.
It’s been fun. I mean, it’s better than sitting I guess watching TV all day, you know what I mean? So, and another cool thing is I’ve connected with people that I haven’t talked to in like 1520 plus years.
I love this. Yes. It’s amazing the internet is being used for what it was intended to be used for connecting people and solving problems and getting information. Yeah, I’m all about it. Um, one of the things that came up when I popped on your, um, IG live the other day, which reminds me every, uh, Thursday after the podcast comes out, I do an IG live at five. So the podcasts come out, podcasts come out on Wednesday, and then I do a live on Thursday. What’d you doing on Thursday at, uh, at five,
Uh, going on with you, I guess.
Okay. So when I jumped on yours last time we started talking about team WOM. Now for those of you that missed the live team, WOM is a well oiled machine and it consists of Marty, myself, and a few other key players. Marty, can you talk about like what makes the dream team?
Well, my dream team as of now, and it’s been this way for a little bit is me, Dana, AJ, Ivan, and Natalie, um, that’s who I have an intensive called school that is an invite only type of intensive that Dana is a part of of course. And it’s us. Five is the core people. And even, you know, when working on a tour or you know, whatever the job may be, it’s always, it’s not always us five. I alternate as well, depending on what the gig is and what I feel is right for it. Um, we just had a job for Justin where me and Ivan and Aja were part of the production team and Dana was a dancer on it,
Although you, although you wouldn’t really know it, that was a cutting room floor of circumstances. It happened then
And after all that hair. Oh my gosh, so much fake hair. We’ll also, we’ll also be linking to that Video
But you, but you have a great story about it. Such a good story, but yeah, but, but that, that’s my dream team and they, everyone brings something different to that pot and we’re a very well rounded team. And if you look from me, the oldest going down to the youngest, which is it you?
No, I think it might be Ivo actually.
Oh it is Ivo.
Nat is older than me.
So then I will, you know, we cover a bunch of different generations and I feel like that’s something that you have to have it to stay connected and stay relevant in this business.
Good point. If anybody out there is seven years old, we’re looking to fill a slot. Marty and I have questions about tik tok.
We do actually we’d see what’s cool is there is like a un just like with team Roast cause team Roast really is just me, Eddie Morales, kmel, and Lil-C. That’s the original team Roast. But we have an extended family, which all you guys are in of course. I mean, you know, Legacy, Flea rock. We have like a big, you know, a big healthy team. Roast family. Same thing with team WOM. I do have a couple of like seven to eight year olds. I’m sure you do too. At your conventions. Who could help us out?
Oh my gosh. Marty. Easy, young ones are like so capable on the dance front and then also like punctual, respectful. They got a personality. They know how to respond to emails on time. I’m looking at my generation like, come on, y’all step up, let’s go, let’s go communicate. And I, yeah, there are a couple of young people in my life that are very impressive on that front.
On one of my lives the other day. This shout out to @Mattygoogs if you’re listening, he, uh, he’s a little assistant for us on monsters and he hit me up on my live with the question, like speaking professionally, just perfectly written up. I’ve really enjoyed learning from you and getting the chance to assist you in prior cities. But my question to you is, how can I get better assisting this and that? I really want to be able to cater to the T like,
So well-groomed, so well-groomed. Believable. Yeah.
Take note y’all.
Okay. Marty’s team is made up of people who are professional and still very personable. They can be casual because they’re so capable and those are the people that I want to have on my team. In this business, your team is your tribe and your team is super important. But that being said, you are the most important person on your team. So next we’re going to get into Marty’s personal codes of conduct and peek into his process for choreographing the trolls films.
Dana: Um, one of my favorites, sayings slash lessons that I ever learned from you is, um, early is on time, on time is late and late is you’re fired. We’re going to use that. We’re going to use the F word.
Yeah, you could, you could use a couple of different F words there.
Um, what other codes do you live by and do you run your professional world by?
Oh, that’s a good one. Um, this, I don’t know if this quite answers it, but this maybe in a roundabout way, I, and I just said this actually, I got a chance to teach for Rich and Tone They’re intensive, the Rich & Tone Experience . And I caught myself saying this there and I’m gonna kind of repeat it now. Like I, I lately and I haven’t always approached work like this, so even works, this is kind of, some people could say, well that’s contradicting where it’s smarter, not harder, but it’s not to me it’s making me work harder. I’ve been, I like to put pressure on myself, so that’s a, that’s a code that I’m living by these days, whether it be with work, even at, uh, you know, I don’t know at home life sometimes I like to almost procrastinate sometimes on purpose to build up, to have a lot to do. So then whenever it’s time to do it, I can just get it all done. You know what I mean? Like when it comes to work, like my example on the trolls movies, like when the scene comes to us, me and AJ watch a scene just to break down real quick, we see a scene, they tell us what happened in the story before, what happens in the story after. And then obviously we, we’re knowing what’s going on in the scene and then it’s up to me to choose where I want dance and build a scene through dance. So I can do whatever I want pretty much right there. Which is awesome. Crazy to think
That creative freedom is such a gift. That’s great.
It’s such a gift. So you know, obviously I’ve seen the scene a couple of times when we have an initial meeting, but then up until the day that we rehearsed, uh, I don’t watch it. I want to go in the day of, I want to watch it again, like an hour before and then I give. So by this time I have like 45 minutes to prepare something. I’m not going to prepare the whole thing, but to give myself a start and basically I’m putting myself in a corner because I know there’s only so many hours of rehearsal before the powers to be, are going to come in and watch and give us notes and then eventually film it for the movie, so it’s a lot of pressure. But to me, no pressure makes diamonds. Do you know what I mean? And like if you have, if you have no other choice, then you have no other choice.
You have to get it done. And, and up to this point, I’ve never had, knock on wood, I’ve never had not got it done. You know what I mean? Maybe I could have done it better. Sure. But we’re not, we’ll never going to know that and maybe I wouldn’t have maybe what I created because of that pressure is what it’s supposed to be. You know, I’ve already, I have already prepared by listening to the song by knowing what’s going on, you know, and I have seen it so it’s not blind. I’m not an idiot. But you know, it’s, it’s, I don’t, I feel like if I have from that time we have that meeting, if it’s a week before we’re going to do that rehearsal, or if I just only think about that scene, it’s gonna mess me up and the product will not be as good as if I did it the other way.
That’s so interesting. I wonder if part of your, um, cause you love sports. We haven’t talked about that much at all and I probably won’t talk about it much because I’m not a sports person. It’s like I just run out of information pretty quickly, so I’m like, Oh yeah, teams, huh, Ooh,
But I wonder if part of your thrill is like the clock’s running out. Absolutely. You love the thrill of, of, let’s see, I already ran out of sports words, but I wonder if that plays into this a little bit like
A hundred thousand percent. It’s the same thing whenever, whenever I came out here and was auditioning as a dancer, I used to go to auditions like it’s a game, but to me it was, I’m like, yo, I’m ready to roast these fools. Like this is not, they’re my opponents. Like I’m trying to get the job and you know, we can be cool before and after, but I’m going to try to destroy these dudes. Like, and I’m not going to cheer for them. Right. You know, and like do all that crap. Like that’s good in class and that’s good. You know, whatever. But at an addition, you know, I get it, keep the morale up or whatever, but I’m not clapping for you. Like I’m trying to get your job
Right. Imagine that. If you had like opposing sports teams, like cheering each class is incredible. I’ve never considered that metaphor or that perspective for another.
Well, when you were, when you, you were a competitive dancer, like at your, your studio, so when you went out there to compete, did you think that way or were you just like, Oh, I’m just, I just want to do my best or I just want to, or were you like, Oh, I hope we get first place.
I definitely wanted to win. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I love this. The idea that you can audition as a, as a person on a team, you’re like, my team is gonna win and I don’t need to be your friend. Yeah. You’re, you’re your team. Um, that’s very cool. Thank you for sharing that.
Absolutely. I miss that, man. Shoot, the audition process!
Let’s go sometime as soon as auditions happen again.
I would love that. Do you know what the last audition I went to was a Michael Rooneyaudition.
Oh, I think I remember this!
I booked the job, believe it or not.
Yeah, of course you did before
It was for a TV show. As a pilot for some TV show, I forget the name of it. I don’t know if it ever came out, but it was like, you know, this big grand 40 person dance piece, whatever that I was in and like doing turns and stuff. It was pretty awesome.
Oh, I love it. So much
And I was so nervous every time on set because I’m surrounded by all these like technical divas and I’m like, I’m just trying to do a clean, double.
Incredible. So talk about that for a second. How did, because your style really does fuse some jazz elements. Marty, Marty Kudelka, combo I can think of has a swift inside pirouette in it.
I love a good inside pirouette.
Love a good inside pirouette. You’re, you’re also, uh, known for a Rond de jamb every now and then, big fan of, uh, I’m going to save your favorite step for a second. But how did you wind up interfacing with technical dancers growing up?
Um, when I started really teaching a lot at studios, I, I taught a lot. Like I have in my busiest time, I was doing like 25 classes a week for like four years. Four or five years in a row right before I moved to LA and, and that was like nine months out of the year. And um, but so I lived at the studio and I literally like, I mean I had an apartment but my apartment was walking distance to the studio. So I literally spent all my time except sleeping at the studio. So when I wasn’t, weren’t teaching, I would sometimes go in other people’s classes cause I knew it was common sense to me. Like I already knew that this is what I wanted to do and I knew that I would have to learn something at some point. And then we started at the same time we were doing gigs in Dallas and a lot of people who were choreographing those gigs were trained. So every time that I did a job, I would be just a dancer before I started choreographing some of them I was just a dancer in them and I would have to learn, like I learned how to do an axle because of a job I had to do.
And you have a mean axle by the way. I want the listeners to know that I am seeing it. It is strong. I’ve seen it.
It’s a good lasso. I know I can, that’s my go to lasso arm. Axel to the right, which came into handy actually at a Janet audition that I auditioned for on the day of the callbacks, Tina Landonput a freaking axle in there and I couldn’t believe it. And by the way, I’m doing a live with her at some point next week. And I’m going to bring this up to her and thank her because I don’t think I ever have, because literally for that moment I was prepared and, and I remember being in the studio, not the studio that we basically, we got kicked out of the studio and her and her squad like Kelly Konoand Nikki and uh, all her squad at the time, I think Gil? No, no, no. Gil Duldalaowas auditioning. Uh wow. She, yeah, Brian Friedmanwas auditioning like it was that time. Friedman was young young. Yeah, this is a 97. And I remember peeking in the blinds to see if I can peek on what they’re doing in there. And I, as I peek, I see them perfect timing as I look, they do an axle and I’m like, and I’m looking around at like, there was probably like 50 of us left and I knew there was going to be one more cut and I’m looking around at all the other hip hop dudes, you know, cause I’m putting myself in that category and I’m like, I know damn well none of these dudes know how to do this. Like there’s no way. So I’m like, yes. And sure enough a lot of them got cut and then there was only like 20 of us and that
And so that’s, that’s how you got your b-boy name.
B-boy Axel. It’s terrible. It’s pretty funny.
That’s a good story.
I forgot about it.
Dana: Okay. It was really, really cool for me to hear Marty stories about auditioning and his audition mentality. I think that with someone like Marty who’s been at the top of their field for so long, sometimes it’s easy to forget that he hasn’t always been there. He had to climb just like I did just like you do. And I know Marty pretty well, but this was the first time that I got to hear about his audition mentality. It was also cool to hear that even he gets nervous on set, although he certainly doesn’t show it. Next Marty and I get to reminiscing a standout gig and a career highlight for me a performance that you might not have even seen if you are new to the scene. Enjoy
Okay. I want to hear about one of your favorite creative processes. Like talk through
when your favorite, it could be a tour or it could be one specific like show or music video.
Um, let’s see. All right. You know, one that stands out, you a part of it of course was the 2013 video Vanguard awards performance for Justin. Um, so A. It was a big deal because it was a lot of time. Normally you only get to do, you know, like three minutes max. Um, no matter who you are. So we knew that this was going to be, they didn’t give us a time at first, but they knew, we knew it was going to be anywhere from like 12 to 20 minutes, somewhere around there. So actually, I actually, I think the reason that’s that number stood out to me, I believe the reason why is because I think they actually did say that they’ll give us 12 in the beginning. And I think our first music edit was like 21 minutes. So we were like, well, We’re gonna have to like, yeah, let it begin. And then it ended up being like 16 and some change, I believe. And so that was a good, happy medium. And I feel like we won that battle and it was like seven seconds longer than Michael Jackson performance, his video vangaurd award. So we felt like we won that battle. But that’s part of the creative process is having to have these talks like, which, by the way, where we talked preproduction for like two and a half months before and on all these calls where it’s all the MTV people, right? Sure. Uh, the, um, you know, the lighting people, the, all the production team, the management, the record label people, and then me, um, it was always just me and like you and AJ y’all didn’t, y’all weren’t part of these calls yet. Like, um, right. Like now I have AJ do more of the email stuff cause I just can’t stand it anymore. And um, I hate it. I really hate it. But anyways, um, but all these talks go in and Justin’s not even on the phone. So I’m basically having to like relay all this important information to him and then we talk about it, then I go back to them and then talk about it and negotiate more about that, like everything. So that’s a big part of the process. But then also he had the idea of, yeah, why don’t we bring N’Sync back together for a little thing? And, um, I thought it was a joke and I was like, no way, you’re not going to do that. And he’s like, why not? And I’m like, well, yeah, I’m asking you why not? Like, why don’t you, he’s like, well, I think I will. And then he did. And then we did, which created another thing. And, and by the way, this is all happening while we’re doing a tour with Jay Z called Legends of Summer That tour was, uh, like a two month tour and that was going on while we were planning this. So we were having to deal with, uh, another ongoing job as things change when the tour is going, but while doing this. So, most of it was like, I remember being in hotels having to be on these conference calls and then yada, yada, yada. But then another big part is now that we know NSYNC going to be there, you know, then it goes. And how much time did they get? What songs did they do? What choreography do they do, do they do choreography, these kinds of things. So then we started putting it together. At the same time, we’re, me and Justin are getting on the phone with Adam Blackstone, the musical directors to figure out how to cut down these, this music. So then, okay we got to take this out and it’s not just taking out a song. Cause then if it’s taken out a song, did that piece have choreography? Transitions? Its gotta make sense musically but also choreographically and direction wise. And then okay now we know that we’re going to go all over the arena was our idea. So then, and I forgot how that idea first came about but Justin just likes to always move. He doesn’t like to be stagnant. So we, I think it was maybe we, we saw the game plan and they said which stage do you want to use type of thing. And we said, uh, all of them and maybe can you build us a couple extra ones? And so then we have to figure out, it’s just a big math problem. Figure out, okay what goes where or does it make sense? Can he survive doing this? Cause if you really watch like that dude was all over that arena. So then once you kind of have that in place, then you have to go back. And there was a, the biggest discussion was we didn’t want to start inside the arena. We wanted to show him with us walking into the venue. But you’re in Brooklyn, New York, and that creates a bunch of permits and this and legal things and what you can and can’t do, where you can shoot, why you can’t do that. All these things. I’m sure you had to deal with this with In the Heights a billion, you know, so you, these are the talks that take the most time. So figuring out what’s possible. Eventually we figured, you know, then we, there was talks about getting off the subway that’s connected to that then, but then you have to go outside. So no, so we can shoot in the subway but we, and then we can jump inside but we can’t shoot the segway in between. That doesn’t make sense. So then we ended up having to shoot it inside to make it look like we kind of just came from outside. So there’s all these talks. Finally we get all that in place and then there’s, well, where are we going to rehearse? Because we have to keep this a secret because of the NSYNC thing. So nobody knew. None of the MTV, not Hamish the director. Nobody knew. Not even you guys as dancers knew. At First, I don’t think maybe you knew
I did know because insert my career highlight of a moment you asked me to rehearse them. Um, I am 33 now, which means at the height of NSYNC, I was also at the height of NSYNC. I was like a huge fan. I had everything they ever did recorded on a VHS and I would watch it, I would study it. I knew all the moves. And I remember one day after rehearsing with them, um, Joey asked if he could film me doing it and he would rehearse watching me. And then Lance was like, Oh yeah, me too. And then JC, of course, YO, JC works so hard. He was, he was like the ultimate most focused. And so, uh, I had the most surreal moment of my damn life when all of the NSYNC members were filming me doing their moves so that they could learn from watching me on video. I was like, you have no idea how backasswords this is because for my entire adolescence, it was the other way around. It was such a wild ride.
Yeah, I remember that day. I remember them all doing that.
Yeah. And we were in, okay. So back to your point about keeping this super under wraps where we had high school gymnasium or some rec center or some sort?
No, we were in the back of a theater.
Why were we in Florida?
We were in, we were in Miami because the legends of the summer tour, the last date was in Miami on a Saturday night. And then he actually had a concert in that theater that we performed in. We performed in the rehearsal space behind the theater, but he had a, uh, you know, he liked to do show after the show. He had a show after the show that Saturday night. And then we had a day off on this Sunday and Miami. And then we started rehearsals there. That’s why we had it in Miami because we were already gonna be there. Justin and I, and we could have a day off in Miami and then fly all you guys there and we start on that Monday in Miami. And because we rehearsed in LA, people would find out about the NSYNC thing. Like what studio could we go to that would, that could be kept secret. Somebody’s gonna talk. Right. You know what I mean? So we in New York, same thing like especially everyone’s going to be rehearsing there cause that’s where the BMS are. So Miami kinda made sense and I loved it. Didn’t you have fun there?
I did have fun. There we went out a couple times.
Yeah. I think that we should always rehearse in Miami. Absolutely. Another cool, cool thing about this, just a little, a little nugget is that um, it was kept such a secret that all five dudes in NSYNC, they all stayed at different hotels, had different transportation of course. And they all came at like scheduled different times to rehearsal. So they weren’t all showing up at the same time. Like it was like a whole secret like service type of thing, which was really cool to be a part of. And I think we kept it from the other dancers like you knew. And maybe
Where is that footage? I know you’ve been releasing some,
I have that footage. I put part of it up of the first section y’all are in.
Oh man. There’s some nice nice moments in there.
Yeah, yeah. But, but, but that was a cool thing just having like I remember the day that they came in NSYNC where and all the dancers finally got to know and we ran it for them or whatever and they got to see what we were doing. And that was such a cool day, man. That’s history.
David Moore was so hype. He was so excited.
And I let David dance in front of NSYNC.
That’s right. He was there. He was there. He was their leader. Um, I will definitely link to that performance cause it is a forgotten gem. That is such a, that’s history. Good call. Um, also in there, I think you just revealed the closing chapter of work smarter, not harder. And that is, remember everything you have a steel trap of a memory that makes, you know, all of the listening in the world doesn’t mean anything if you can’t remember it. So whatever your method is, method is, if it’s having great assistants or keeping good notes or just being Marty, which means your memory is foolproof. Um, then that like, that is such a huge, huge, important part of, of being able to work smart.
Yeah. Um, I mean I think it’s, I don’t think I have some like special memory. I think I have like a selective memory. I think that’s what you have to do is like if you, if it’s something that you think you might need to know and remember, then try to figure out a way to remember that. You know what I mean? Like, you know how bad I am with birthdays. Like I’m the worst at birthdays and I’m really bad with people’s names. Um, once I know it and then the people’s names, then I w- I don’t forget, but I’m really bad if I just meet you once or twice. It’s really hard for me. And I think part of that is almost like, I want you to make me remember who you are. You know what I mean? Like I will make me want to know you type of thing. Where a birthday. I’m kind of like, I don’t need to know that because some, somebody gonna to remind me, you know, someone’s going to be talking about it or I’m going to see nowadays especially I’m gonna see an Instagram post and I’m going to go, Oh, I’m going to hit up that person before I forget, you know,
Cross out everything. Definitely don’t remember everything. Remember important things important. Absolutely. That’s that. Um, and on that note,I think, I think we’d wrap it up. Is there anything that we, I think we could easily go round to for the record and I’m excited about going a little deeper into some of these topics on our IG live on Thursday at five. Um, but I’m just so grateful at you being in my life and at you sharing all of this. The insight is priceless. It really, truly is. So thank you for doing it.
Thanks for having me. This was fun. Let’s do it again Thursday.
It’s been awhile since we took the dog out.
Where’s this dog going
To the pound.
Where’s this dog going?
To the bank.
We’re just all going logging out of our zoom conference right now by Marty. Thank you so much.
I hope you smiled. I hope you laughed and I hope you enjoyed reading the ways that Marty works smarter, not harder. I’ve been learning from Marty for years and I got a lot out of this episode. It had so many great reminders to look, listen, freestyle, and remember the important stuff. Oh, and laugh a lot. If you don’t already have a full page of notes on this episode, I want you to grab some paper and brainstorm the ways that you can work smarter, not harder. And at the bottom of that page, leave yourself some space and ask yourself for three ways that you can make sure to laugh more today than you did yesterday. And with that, my friends, I will bid you. Adieu. Adieu? I’ll bid adieu Thank you so much for listening, everybody. Stay safe. Stay soapy and keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon.
Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, thedanawilson.com/podcast finally, and most importantly now you have a way to become a word member. So kickball, change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast Learn more and join. All right, everybody now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.