Ep. #65 Money March Pt. 3 MINDSET: MATH vs DRAMA.

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #65 Money March Pt. 3 MINDSET: MATH vs DRAMA.
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My goal for this episode is NOT to tell you what you should or shouldn’t think about money, or even THAT you should or shouldn’t think about money.  My goal is to  hold a safe place for you to explore, and discuss your RELATIONSHIP with money.  By the end of this episode, you’ll understand your beliefs about money, how (long it takes) to make a billion dollars AND the very significant role your emotions play in managing your wealth.

Quick Links:

Columbus and Billionaires: https://www.truthorfiction.com/if-you-made-5000-a-day-starting-in-1492-would-you-still-have-less-money-than-jeff-bezos/

Transcript

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

Dana: Hello. Hello.  Hi, and welcome to the podcast. I’m Dana. This is Words That Move Me. I’m stoked. This episode is a really, really special one, a subject that is very close to my heart, question mark.. I take that back immediately. Um, close to my mind, at least pretty close to my mind. Most of the time, um, today we’re talking about money mindset. This is part three of money March. We’ve already discussed dancer specific dollars. In episode 63, episode 64 was all about choreographers and the unique challenges that we are looking at in our industry right now. And today we are talking about your mindset about money, and I’m very simply put separating the math from the drama and I’m jazzed about it. But first we’re going to talk wins, and I love my win this week. I’m very excited to share. I’ll tell you mine, and then you will take the floor and share with yourself, or whoever happens to be around you, uh, something that’s going well in your world.  So here we go. Uh, this week I am celebrating that there is finally an in theater and HBO max release date for In the Heights, which of course is Jon Chu’s feature film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda and  Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Tony award-winning musical coming to the big screen. Holy smokes. You guys, I’m extremely emotional about this one. Um, for, for much of 2019, I lived in New York city and was an associate choreographer along with Ebony Williams, Emilio Dosal, and Eddie Torres Jr. Um, working under the fearless leadership of dance and choreography champion, Mr. Christopher Scott and wow friends. I cannot wait for you to see this film. And, uh, I’ve been fortunate enough to reconnect with some of the team in the last few weeks. And that is my win. I am. I’m simply smitten with admiration and awe and pride, um, at being a part of this team and a part of this project, I am thrilled for you to see it. Okay, now it’s your turn. What is going well in your world?  

Congratulations. I commend you for your grind. Please keep going. There are important stories out there that need to be told, and they are demanding and they’re calling for you. So keep going, keep winning and dammit. Even if you’re losing lose forward. I think the more eloquent way to put that as fail forward, but just, just keep going. All right, congrats. You got this. 

Now my aim for this podcast, for every single words that move me episode is to help you listener become more informed and empowered and capable and actively creating more than you consume in terms of value in the world. Um, but my goal for this specific episode is not to tell you what you should or shouldn’t think about money or even that you should or shouldn’t think about money. My goal is to hold a safe place for you to explore and, um, discuss. And in general, become more aware of your relationship with money. Uh, I suppose you might think of this as, as a relationship counseling session, but since money doesn’t have thoughts and feelings about you, this is going to be a pretty one-sided session. Now, before I get too deep into it, uh, the lovely Riley Higgins, who is my assistant engineer on the podcast, she creates interactive PDF worksheets for every single words that move me podcast episode, the worksheets are designed to be a companion to each episode, a place where you can really apply and study what you are learning, what you’re listening to really recommend you check those out worksheets are sold in bundles of ten at thedanawilson.com/shop And we are making a special deal and bundle out of the money March episodes. So all four parts of our money March series will be turned into worksheets, bundled together thedanawilson.com/shop And they will exist for you there forever. Um, so that you can keep your financial flow locked in and lovely. I love alliteration. I really can’t help it. Um, I really do encourage you to go check that out. Especially this episode’s worksheet will be particularly useful because today I’ll be asking for a lot of crowd participation. Um, I’m going to ask you to look to yourself for a lot of answers to questions instead of to me or to my guests. Um, I suppose I should also make a quick warning that this conversation can bring up a lot. 

Yes. Money. When I think about money, I think about my dad. I think about my childhood. I think about this country. I think about my car. I think about my house. I think about homelessness. I think about inequity. Wow. I mean, this subject of money is loaded and we’re going to start unpacking it. We’re going to unpack it because it can teach us so much about ourselves and our world. Now, before we even unzip to unpack, let’s talk about the suitcase that we’re unpacking. I am very interested in social and economic justice yet. This episode is really not directly about redistributing wealth from the haves to the have nots from the oppressors to the oppressed. This podcast assumes that you are listening to this podcast, which means that you have a phone or some sort of device, possibly a computer or tablet. And you have wifi. This episode was created with an audience whose basic human needs are already met in mind. All right, let’s jump right into it. Shall we? The first idea that I want to introduce is this concept of a relationship. I already touched on it once already, but whether, whether you’ve said yes to that relationship or not, you are indeed in a relationship with money and just like in a friendship or a romantic relationship, your thoughts and beliefs about your partner affect your experience of the relationship. If you think your partner is the greatest thing since sliced bread, which Holy smokes let’s be real is so good. I have a loaf, the sourdough bread on my counter right now. And it’s so, okay. We’re back. Money, money, not bread, money, not bread. Oh my God. Money, bread. Okay. Moving on. If you think your partner is the greatest thing since something great, you probably feel wonderful about being in a relationship with them, or perhaps you think that your partner is cheating on you. And that makes for a very different experience of the relationship. You might even be able to remember a relationship where the harder and harder you to get the interest of someone, the less interested they became is this a, is this a scary parallel for money or what it might be? It might not. The point is the thoughts and the beliefs that you have about your partner affect your experience of the relationship. So let’s uncover your current beliefs about money. I’m going to start by asking three questions and I’ll leave a little bit of space here for you to answer. If you’re using the words that move me worksheets by all means have a heyday. If not a plain old pen and paper or note in your phone should do just fine. 

Question number one is this, what comes to mind when you think about money?  What comes to mind, when you think about money? Do you think about catch phrases? Like money equals power or time is money or you have to work hard to make money? Or do you think more personal thoughts? Like, Oh, I’ll never be a millionaire as a dancer. When you think about money, do you think about the stuff that money buys do you think about the people who have it? Do you think about the people who don’t have it? When you think about money, do you think about disparities, pay gaps and equity? What comes up for you when you think about money, make a list of all your thoughts, or I suppose you could simply think them, but we will be coming back to this in a moment. Feel free to take a little more time if you would like. 

Question number two is a two-parter part one. Do you have a lot of money? And why? Part two? Do you want a lot of money? And why do you have a lot of money and why? And do you want a lot of money and why? Yes, my friends, we are doing it. We are uncovering your beliefs about the greenbacks. Okay. Next question. What were you taught about money from your parents, from your teachers, your role models, leaders, key figures, and even friends in your life. What were you taught about money? Were you taught that, that you need to hold on tight because you might lose it at any time. Were you taught that it takes money to make money? Um, were you taught that high risk equals high reward? What were you taught about money? Of course you can take as much time as you need here, but I’ll keep moving. 

My fourth question is simply what is money factually? What is money? Not your thoughts about money, but what actually is money. Of course I consulted the internet and the Internet’s definition of money is a current medium of exchange in the form of coins and bank notes. Yep. That’s it. Coins and bank notes. Uh, current medium of exchange money. Factually is neutral. There’s nothing in that definition that says money is good or money is bad, or even money is essential. It is a piece of paper or a coin that humans have all collectively agreed is worth something. Imagine an alien descends on earth lands here and finds a $100 bill on the ground and a dime. And let’s say a crushed up Carl’s Jr cup. They would have no idea which one has more value because humans have invented the construct that is money and humans have a lot of different thoughts about what it means.  Do you love that? In that scenario, I made this subtle assumption that aliens are real and that money is in fact neutral money itself by itself is a circumstance. It’s not until we think about it, that it holds any rank or pull on our lives. We think that it’s essential for survival. We think that we don’t have enough of it or that other people have too much of it. You can, and you probably do think many different thoughts about money than I do. We, the universal we, will all think different thoughts about money. And that is a beautiful and slightly scary thing. But the bottom line is that most of us think thoughts about money, not facts about money. The facts are the simple math, but the thoughts are usually simple drama. You know, that friend who makes everything extremely dramatic, nothing is okay. Everything is either amazing or awful. Yeah. That might be you a little bit with maybe it’s possible. So let’s focus on separating facts about money from thoughts about money. Take a look at your answers to the questions that I’ve asked. What comes to mind when you think about money, do you have a lot of it? Why do you want a lot of it? Why, what were you taught about it and look closely at your answers there? How much of that is money math and how much of that is money? Drama.  Challenge yourself by asking is this is, this is what I’ve written here really empirically true, or could someone else think something differently? Could someone else even with similar circumstances think differently. In other words, I’m asking, do you have a money problem or do you simply have money drama? No matter what the answer is to that question, the good news is that both the circumstance of money and your drama about it can be changed. Check that out. Pretty sweet. Huh? I think so. 

Now I want to deconstruct a very popular idea. This idea, that hard work putting in your time, saving up your money and making a budget will make you rich.  Time does not make money. Hard work does not make money. A budget does not make money. It might save money, but the only thing actually makes money is value. Value is a measure of the benefit provided by a good or service. And my friends, we definitely want to create benefits just like we want to reap the benefits, right? So how much benefit are you providing? How much potential do you have to create value in the world? What skills do you have that the world could use? What ideas do you have that the world is begging for? You can go ahead and start a list for that too. I love that list. Now, as a demonstration of this fact, this idea that time doesn’t make money and hard work definitely does not equal money. As a demonstration of that fact, I am going to call on a, um, a tweet that was made back in 2019. If you used Twitter or the internet in 2019, you probably this tweet floating around. I think the original author of it was Zach Walls. Um, he, he, he wrote, if you worked every single day, making $5,000 per day from the time Columbus sailed to America, to the time you’re reading this tweet, you would still not be a billionaire and you would still have less money than Jeff Bezos makes in a week. Yikes. Let me just call that back. If you worked every single day for $5,000 a day from the time Christopher Columbus sailed to America, which was, I believe 1492. If my rhyme serves me correctly, um, until today, quote unquote, which was sometime in 2019, you would still not be a billionaire and you would still have less money than Jeff Bezos makes in a week. Well, my friend, there has been some pretty intense fact checking and math mapping on that tweet. And at least the first part of it is still true to this day and will be true. The first part of it, um, meaning $5,000 every day from 1492 until today, you still would not be a billionaire. That part is true and will be true until 2054, indeed. It would take about 562 years at $5,000 per day to become a billionaire. So what does that tell us? Well, a, it tells us that Jeff Bezos has an almost unthinkable amount of money. Um, and that if you’re a dancer earning the 2019 median average hourly rate of $17.49 per hour, that’s about $139 and 92 cents per day, which is a far cry from $5,000 a day. Um, yeah, if you’re a dancer making the average median hourly rate, you’re far from becoming a billionaire, unless you think outside of the billable hours in a day, let’s take a look at Oprah for example, always let’s always look at Oprah. For example, Oprah didn’t become a billionaire by increasing her day rate or her hourly rate and simply working more hours. She did it by creating value that works and earns even while she’s sleeping, that my friends is the dream, no pun intended. So yes, do everything you can to build the skills that earn you top dollar in your field, create and contribute benefits in the world. And yes, and also look for or create ways that your money can make money without you lifting a finger. This might mean licensing your choreography. Shout out to last week’s episode or writing a book perhaps, or selling a product, or of course, keeping your money in a safe place with a high interest yield instead of under your mattress. I suppose, in, in the words of my dear friend, Marty Kudelka what I’m trying to say is work smarter, not harder and let your money do the same. 

Now, the next thing I want to talk about is emotions. Dana, why are you talking about emotions? This podcast episode is about money. Well, chill out and find out. I want you to take a moment and list all of the emotions that you associate with money, either having it or not having it doesn’t matter. A couple of examples are settled, safe, or struggling, glamorous, guilty, happy, scared, embarrassed, um, proud, free, greedy, accomplished, jealous, indulgent, superior inferior. Just rattle them off all of the emotions that you associate with money.  

Now I’m going to say something that you might not like money cannot make you feel any of the things on this list. Now you might be thinking, uh, no Dana, for sure. I’m telling you. I swear to God. If I had money and could pay my rent, I would be happy. I would feel safe. If I can just pay my rent again, I’ll ask you to challenge yourself here, strip away the drama. You think you would be happy if you could just pay your rent, but is it possible that you could pay your rent and still be very unhappy? Is it possible that someone with a lot of money paying their rent could feel unhappy or insecure even? Is it possible that someone with very little money could feel happy? Yes, of course it is. I like to think of, um, Bernie Madoff. When I talk about emotions and money, Bernie Madoff, I can remember his last name because he is the financial advisor slash market maker slash fraudster who, I think that’s a word, but I’m not sure. Um, who made off with a bunch of people’s money. He’s the confessed operator of the largest Ponzi scheme in world history. Um, the amount missing from his client’s accounts was almost $65 billion. And we’ve already talked about how much a billion is now. Here’s the thing. Bernie’s clients felt great investing their money with him because they thought keyword, they thought their money was in good hands. Their money was long gone, nowhere to be found, but they felt fine until they found out their money was gone and enter the drama. PS, Bernie Madoff must be in his eighties by now and is still in prison. So yahoo. Now of course, money itself, coins, paper. They don’t affect our emotions, but if you happen to believe that money and your emotions are directly linked, you may actually be avoiding money to avoid the feelings that you don’t want to associate with. You might actually be avoiding money to avoid feeling greedy or indulgent or self-centered or ego maniacal, or you may be chasing money thinking once I have it, I can finally feel free or happy or glamorous or proud or accomplished. And this is a problem. This is a problem because all feelings are available regardless of money. Period. I know some very, very wealthy people that are very, very unhappy and extremely insecure. I know a lot of people living paycheck to paycheck that are thrilled with their lives, Joyful, grateful, generous, giving. These are just two examples of the evidence that money itself and the having of it is not directly correlated to your emotions. So are you avoiding money because of the way it makes you feel? Are you avoiding looking at your checking account or balancing your books or emailing your CPA because you feel stupid when you do it? Past itself raises hand. I’ve definitely gotten better at this, but these are two really important questions to ask yourself, are you avoiding money because of the way that it makes you feel or are you chasing it because of the way you think you’ll feel when you have it? If the answer is yes to either of those questions, take a super pause and really zoom out, actually better yet. Zoom in, zoom in to that feeling that you’re, that you can’t handle feeling or zoom into that feeling that you’re chasing that you think is sitting there with the pot of gold under the rainbow. Zoom in on that feeling. Can you feel it? Can you imagine what it feels like in your body?  I bet you can feel that feeling right now. This, my friends is why managing your emotions is an excellent first step to managing your money now to show the importance of the way that you’re thinking with regards to money, we’re going to do a little experiment. 

Notice the difference in the way that you feel. When I mentioned these different scenarios. Imagine you go to the store and you buy $10 worth of food and drink or anything that $10 can buy. All right. That’s scenario one. How does that, how does thinking about that scenario make you feel? Scenario two is a little bit different. Let’s say when you went to the store, you had a $10 bill in your back pocket. And when you got to the store to buy the stuff, the $10 bill is not there. It’s fallen out. You’ve lost it. You’ve got all your stuff up on the conveyor belt, $10 not there.  How do you feel? Next scenario. Let’s say you’re eating out with a friend and they have lost or forgotten their wallet. So you say, dude, no worries. I got you. It’s just 10 bucks. You from your friend, your friend, 10 bucks for them. Yeah. How does that feel?  Say this next scenario, you pay $10 for an online class. This is a teacher that you love. You get a great class. How does that feel? Notice the difference you feel when you think you are losing money versus spending money versus lending money versus investing the actual math of it is all exactly the same money goes out. That’s what happened in all of those scenarios. You bought things at the store, you lost the $10 bill. You covered your friend, you loaned your friend $10. Um, you paid $10 for an online class. The math is the same $10 out. The rest of it is drama. The drama says I should get something. When money goes out, the drama says that when you lose money, you get nothing but inconvenience in return. The drama says that when you loan money, you’re helping and that feels good. And depending on the situation, you might even think you’ll get it back.  The drama says that when you invest, you think you’ll get it back plus some, but all are simply money out. So what if you could think of the dollar falling out of your pocket as paying for a lesson, maybe not a dance lesson, but a lesson in where to put your money. What if you could think of the money falling out of your pocket as lending money to someone else thinking that you’re helpful? Certainly it feels better than thinking that you’re reckless or that the universe is somehow unfair and his targeted you. What, if you could think that you will absolutely get that $10 back someday, 100%. That’s going to come back to you. If you truly believe that you would get that $10 back, I bet the way you treat the person at the checkout counter, when you realized your $10 was gone would be different. I bet the way you talked to yourself in that moment would be different. I really encourage you to start noticing the language that you use with yourself. When you think about money, not just the money out, but the money in as well.  Think about making money versus earning money versus creating money. Do those generate different, different feelings in your body, different modes of being. For me It sure does. When I think about earning money, I am absolutely thinking about working. But when I think about creating money, there’s all sorts of different possibilities. There, possibilities that don’t necessarily include me busting through the cartilage in my knees. 

Now, while we’re on the subject of trying on new words and new thoughts, when you’re thinking about money, you may notice that I have not yet mentioned abundance mentality and his entire episode about money mindset. I haven’t talked about abundance mentality. That is because I think there is a lot of, uh, excuse me, bull*** around the power of positive thinking. When it comes to money, taping a $100 bill to your ceiling and looking at it every morning and night will not make you rich thinking that you are a millionaire, doesn’t make you a millionaire, but thinking like one and then taking massive action, sometimes massive risk. Well that might help you to become one.  The numbers are the numbers. What you earn is what you earn, what you spend is what you spend, what you have is what you have. And what you’d like to have is what you’d like to have. That’s all math, everything else is drama. And it’s optional. Please. Don’t forget to take a look at the worksheet companion to this episode and the rest of the money March episodes. I’m really hopeful that they will help you gain clarity of your thoughts and feelings around money. They are also a very interesting time capsule type project, a really cool thing to do once, maybe twice a year returned to reference back to, and really kind of clock how those thoughts, feelings, and yes, the math changes over time. Highly, highly recommend, okay, everybody that is it for me today. Next week I will be joined by not only a dancer, but a CPA as well. And yeah, that’s one person I’m super excited about next week’s episode. It’s entirely Q and A. So anything that’s come up for you in this episode or in the last two, all things money March, bring your questions about money, bring your questions about contracts, my guests, and I will do our very best to answer all your Qs. Get out in the world. Everybody be kind, and please Keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon. 

Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me too. Number two thing. I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit  TheDanawilson.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. #64 Money March Pt. 2 CHOREOGRAPHERS

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #64 Money March Pt. 2 CHOREOGRAPHERS
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Let’s talk ORGANIZATION! Choreographers and their teams (assistant choreographers, associate choreographers, co-choreographers etc.) along with production assistants are the ONLY category of workers on Film/ TV/ Commercial sets that do not have Union representation.  What does that mean? It means no minimum daily rate, no Health & Pension contributions, no residual structures, no penalties for overtime, or turnaround time.  Why does that matter? Because DANCE and the people who make it are pillars of popular culture (to say the very very least). 

In this episode, I talk to two time Emmy award winning choreographer, Kathryn Burns and Craig Baylis.  Craig is a former dancer who has gone onto work in damn near every sector of entertainment from Artist Development & Tour Marketing to Product Management and even SAGAFTRA member and Staff.

In this episode we scratch the surface of several deep and delicate issues from daily minimum rates (and what’s so great about em) to supply and demand, licensing, and even copyright of choreography.

The learning curve set ahead of choreographers is steep.  We must teach ourselves AND the record labels and studio big wigs on the other side of the negotiation table what we do and what that is worth.  Grab a pen and paper, and get ready to study up!

Quicklinks:


Choreographers Alliance: https://www.choreographersalliance.org/
Dancers Alliance: https://www.dancersalliance.org/
Sagaftra: https://www.sagaftra.org/

Transcript:

Ep. #63 Money March Pt.1 DANCERS

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #63 Money March Pt.1 DANCERS
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Dancers are unique in many many ways, not least of which is our income.  It comes from MANY different places, at inconsistent intervals, it’s often not taxed… and then there’s the actual numbers!  We might make $17.49/ hour, we might make over $1k per day, we might make $0.00 in a month, we might make $250,000.00 per year. Still interested?  Yea, me too.  In this episode, I break down the rates, tips, and trades that helped me understand and OWN my full financial picture.

Quick Links:

DA Rates/ Working Conditions: https://www.dancersalliance.org/da-rates

TV/Theatrical 2020 Summary: https://www.sagaftra.org/files/sa_documents/SAG-AFTRA_2020TV-Theatrical_Summary.pdf

For super bonus extra credit: Understanding Residuals SAGAFTRA: https://youtu.be/p4U7CRtmdVM

Understanding IRAs: https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/investing/learn-about-ira-accounts

SAGAFTRA Music Department (for all your Music Video needs):  (323) 549-6864 

Money Book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6705806-the-money-book-for-freelancers-part-timers-and-the-self-employed

Transcript:

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

Dana: Hello, Hello, my friend. And welcome to Words that Move Me. I’m Dana, jazzed that you’re here stoked about this episode, even though it is about not my favorite subject. Yes, it is money March on the podcast. And in this episode, we are talking about the money side of dance life. Um, we’re going to focus specifically on dancers. We’ll talk about choreographers next week, but if you are an actor, a singer or another type of creative human or performer, um, or the parent of one for that matter, keep listening because there is a metric boat load of information about personal finance, uh, for people who do not so regular work. Uh, but first we’re going to talk wins. I have a very not money-related win today. I have taken ballet class three times in the last eight days, which is more than I have taken ballet class in the last eight months.  And it’s feeling very good on my body. Um, I think this particular brand of ballet is a compassionate one. I’ve been taking class from the fabulous Spenser Theberge, and, um, I’ll be real with you ballet, and I have have had a rocky past, uh, we’re we’re not known for getting along and Spenser acts as such a marvelous mediator for me in that relationship. So if you’re looking to get back into a, a ballet class or a ballet practice, I really do recommend Spenser Theberge’s class. He’s been teaching on zoom lately. I don’t know how much longer that will continue. Um, but I will link to Spenser and some more about where to find him in the show notes for this episode, Shout out Spenser. Thank you so much, my friend. All right, Now, it’s your turn. What’s going well in your world. 

Awesome.  I’m so proud of you. I’m glad that you’re winning. I’m glad that we’re here winning together. Um, and this episode togetherness is important. Having it together is important. In this episode, we’re going to talk about the uniqueness of a dancer’s income and exactly what a dancer’s income might be. Um, we’re going to talk about the importance of a solid money system. I’ll give you a few tips there. Um, I’ll give you some essential vocab and I will also give you a very broad stroke outline of what kind of dollars you can expect to be making. When you’re working as a dancer in movies, TV shows, commercials, music, videos, industrials tours, and live shows. Am I missing anything? Oh yeah. Even student films, um, and projects made for the interweb. So this episode is full and it is for you buckle up.  

All right. I want to start off by saying that I think it is fascinating that most dancers and choreographers for that matter, who decide that they want to pursue a career in dance do so without having the slightest idea of how much a dancer or a choreographer makes. I think that actually most creatives are in a similar boat. Um, most of us don’t pursue this creative career. This self-employed life for the money, right? We don’t do this for the money. We didn’t get into it for the money yet. Chances are that if we quit, if we abandon this creative life, this freelance life, it’s probably because of the money. So let’s get a grip on that. Honestly, it’s wild to me, but it is real. I packed up my Volkswagen bug and moved across the country without a clue about the money I would make or without a clue about how much it costs to be alive in Los Angeles.  It was my first time living under my own roof. I paid all my own bills and I had no clue what to expect. And that’s not necessarily for lack of trying. It’s actually pretty easy to look up estimated incomes for various professions, but you’ll find that the range of income for a dancer or a choreographer is extremely broad yet the numbers for salaried professionals like software engineer or a nurse or a pilot, for example, those numbers are pretty firm. And I think that people who decide to become doctors, pilots, pharmacists, whatever they do so, considering that number, and they probably have an idea of that number when they’re pursuing training. But do you, my dear mover and shaker busting your balls for a career in dance. Do you have any idea how much a dancer makes in a year and to all my more established movers and shakers, do you know how much you made last year?  

You might because it’s tax season, but do you know how much you spent? Could you tell me that number without running and grabbing your last year’s tax returns? Do you know how much you would make in one day on a SAG-AFTRA theatrical contract, where there are two other dancers? Do you know how much you would make in one day on a, on a theatrical contract where there were eight or more other dancers, I’ll give you a hint. Those numbers are different. Now, listen, there is no shame game here. No shame at all. In fact, I had to look half this stuff up as I was preparing for this episode, but simply put, I have to say this stuff because in the intro to this podcast, I say the words, if you’re looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then stick around blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. What I should’ve said is if you’re looking to rewrite the starving artist story, stop being afraid of money, stop being afraid of looking at your balances and your bills and your contracts, and start talking about reading, about learning, about making and managing money.  

This episode exists to help you do exactly that at very best. It might be boring to you, but I’m going to start with some cold, hard facts today. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about half of the dancers in the workforce made less than the average American in 2019, the us census median individual income. So the average American individual made a little over $40,000 in 2019. The median hourly rate, I always say rage. I say rage on accident, but I don’t know if it’s an accident. The median hourly wage for a dancer in 2019 was $17 and 49 cents an hour. That’s $36,501 and 63 cents for a full-time year. Now let’s be real. Most dancers don’t work full-time. So if the average full-time American is making $40,000 in a year, and the average full-time dancer is making a 36,000 a little more than 36,000 in a year that median hourly wage $17 and 49 cents leaves you at a little less than $700 for a 40 hour work week. Discouraged? Maybe, but don’t get discouraged, get deliberate, get deliberate about how you earn, spend and grow your wealth. I’m going to give you a little encouragment moment. Also, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of entertainment professionals is projected to grow 7% from 2019 to 2029. That is faster than the average for all other occupations. What does that say? It says that people want to be entertained and they always will. It also says there’s a chance. So you’re telling me there’s a chance. What was all that one in a million talk?  I digress, man. I love movies. Um, let’s see, in case you need a little more encouragement as of today, which is March, 2021, a dancer hired as a soloist or part of a duo on a SAG-AFTRA theatrical contract, theatrical, by the way, it means films. AKA features that dancer will be paid a minimum rate of $1,030 in one day. And that’s just for the initial work. That’s not including the residual payments. It will get into, uh, the terms in the contract, specifics of all that in a moment. But for now I’ll wrap up this section by saying, dancers are unique. For many, many reasons. One of them is that dancers might make 700 per week, or we might make over a thousand per day, or we could make zero in a month or we could make 250,000 in a year. I would love to see dancer rates and dancer employment go up. But I don’t only think there’s an income challenge here. I think that most of us self-employed dance types actually have a cash flow challenge. Um, I think we never learned how much we ought to be charging. I think we never really learned how to manage it once we make it here are, if you other things that make us really, really unique, um, other than our exquisite fashion sense and physical superpowers of course consider that the traditional employee has their taxes paid automatically. When they receive their check, their taxes are already gone. They’re taken out already like Macavity. They’re not there. Sorry, Cats. I can’t help it. Wow. Movies shown up a lot for me today. Um, also traditional employees receive health and pension plans through their employer. Imagine that they get paid vacation, sick days and personal days. They have a fixed income that usually comes from one place.  We do not. In fact, if you’re good at what you do, you’ve got money coming from a lot of different sources for varying amounts on a super irregular basis and through different money channels. For example, PayPal, for all your zoom classes, residual checks from SAG-AFTRA direct deposits from your agencies, um, direct deposits from productions and various payroll companies like media services, entertainment partners, dance studios, all of it. Oh, and if you have an LLC, if you are a single member, LLC, then you’re hopefully also receiving payroll from yourself. So well, this can make tax season really woo exciting. And that is exactly why it’s important for independent contractors like us to organize our money lives and to our own personal financial systems. And that is whatever works my friend, because we truly are unique, little dancing snowflakes. And um, Oh, I wonder if the sugar plum theme music is creative commons. I should be playing that right now. I could probably use that anyways. What I’m trying to say is that we, we independent contractors have to be more disciplined than the average nine to fiver in order to keep all of this creative freedom in our daily lives. 

Okay. So let’s get into some vocab, shall we? Um, I mentioned already the median average dancer hourly rate, and I want to make sure that I’m explicitly clear about what that means. Um, it means that half of the data points fall below that number, that $17 and 49 cents per hour and half of the data points are higher than that. So if Sarah let’s say, makes the median average dancer rate of $17.49 an hour, she makes more than half the dancers in the workforce. And half of the dancers in the workforce are making more than she does. So to revisit math class for just a quick second, the median number is the number smack in the middle of all the data.  The mean average in this case would be, um, every dancers hourly rate added up together and then divided by the number of total dancers. And the mode average is the number of most commonly occurring. Great math. We did it. Um, okay. Now let’s talk about some fun acronyms. Let’s start with SAG-AFTRA, shall we, SAG-AFTRA is the labor union that represents 160,000, probably more than that. Right now, actors, announcers broadcast journalists, dancers, news writers, news editors, program hosts, puppeteers, recording artists, singers, stunt performers, voiceover artists, and other media professionals. SAG-AFTRA stands for Screen Actors Guild, which then merged with the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. There you have it, SAG-AFTRA. The stage equivalent of SAG-AFTRA is called Actors’ Equity. They represent more than 51,000 actors and stage managers. 

Now let’s talk DA. DA stands for Dancers Alliance, a group of dancers, including myself who advocate for equitable minimum rates and working conditions for all non-union work. That’s any gig that falls outside of SAG-AFTRA’s jurisdiction. For example, Paul Mitchell decides to do a hair show. This is not on camera. This is not a Broadway or off-Broadway show it. This might be taking place in Austin, Texas. For example, that work would fall under the jurisdiction of Dancer’s Alliance. Now let’s talk about a slightly less sexy acronym. I R A or individual retirement account, which is kind of like a savings account, but you can’t use the money quite yet. And it has tax advantages. We’re honestly, we’re not going to talk much about IRAs today, but I will link to a really helpful video on the subject, um, in the show notes of this episode, enjoy that. Okay, let’s talk P and H. P and H is V important. Um, P&H stands for pension and health. These are contributions that go to a pension fund and healthcare.  In my case, I received these through SAG-AFTRA now because dancers are typically young and healthy. Most of us don’t care too much about P&H, but Wowza, if this last year is any evidence, we can all become sick. We can all become injured and you cannot dance if you don’t have your health. So I strongly encourage you start recognizing the benefits of health and pension benefits. All right, let’s talk CPA’s. A CPA is a certified public accountant, and I’ll be real with you. There are a lot of online services that boasts the ability to save you money on your taxes. But I find that working with a real human being CPA, whose name’s Jeremy shout out Jeremy, um, on my taxes every year is really the only way to go. I have a lot of that software out there isn’t designed to handle the uniqueness. That is me and you.  So that’s a CPA certified public accountant. Now a CB as in bargaining, a CBA stands for collective bargaining agreement. This is the agreement between the union and the employer that you work under when you’re a part of a sag after contract, for example, uh, people who support collective bargaining and unions in general, believe that employees have a better chance at getting what they want in terms of rates and working conditions. When they negotiate as a collective, as a union, rather than individually. Now, when we talk about SAG-AFTRA contracts or CBAs, we’ll discuss four broad categories of work, TV, theatrical, commercial, and new media. Oh, another fun acronym, S V O D subscription video on demand like Netflix, Apple+, Hulu, Amazon, all of those guys, they’re making this conversation very interesting. Okay. Now, when I get into talking about SAG -AFTRA commercial contracts, I’ll go deeper on the concept of residuals, but just for the purpose of this vocab section, a residual or royalty payment is sometimes known as a use payment.  That simply means that an additional compensation will be paid out when a production is shown at, beyond its original covered use. The rest of it is not so simple. Okay. That was not simple. I’ll be real, but we’re going to get into residuals in just a second. Now I’m not a financial advisor. I am not a fiduciary, but I do financially advise you to purchase this financial book. It is called The Money Book for Freelancers part-timers and the self employed it’s by Joseph D’Agnese and Denise Kiernan. Um, um, it is in the show notes for this episode and it is very well-written. You will laugh. You will likely cry, but that’s not because of the writing. That’s because you love moving your body. You think it’s fun. And this book has nothing to do with moving your body.  

Um, but it has everything to do with moving you towards financial freedom. I owe a lot to this book, which now that I say that out loud is really funny because the book itself is only like $15. And I paid for it all at once. So I know I owe nothing to this book yet. I know yet I owe so much to this book. Honestly, it’s like a handhold. It’s like a financial partner all the way through guiding you. Uh, I honestly, I got straighter answers from this book than I have gotten from previous CPAs and financial advisors who wiggled around concepts for hundreds of dollars. And this book was 15. So there you have it. Oh, and it was not paid to say this, by the way, uh, the money book outlines system for organizing your financial records, it helps you get a clear picture of how much you earn what you spend and what you owe, which by the way, with just a few hours of very focused time, you could probably, and should probably do that today.  

Um, the book also explains how you might prioritize paying off debt. It helps you evaluate not only the number side of your business, but also encourages you to evaluate how good you are at doing what you do and kind of offer some ideas about how you might do it better, truly awesome. Um, but there were three massive takeaways that I, that I gathered from this book, and I want to share them with you. Number one, I learned the importance of web only banking. I moved most of my money to a web only bank, which means they have no storefront. They have no like in-human exchanges there. Um, but this web only bank had a much better annual percentage yield, which by the way, the yield is how much the investor, in this case you receives from the investment, the amount of money that you have sitting in the bank, the interest rate on my old checking account at the Bank of America, shame on you was 0.01%. When I switched over to the web bank that I use, which is ally, I got 1% on that same amount of money. I got 1% interest. Now for math sake, let’s say I had a thousand dollars in that account. At B of A, in one year, that thousand dollars would have made me 10 cents of money that the same thousand dollars in my ally account would have earned me $10, 10 cents versus $10. And when the amount of money in the account goes up, that disparity goes up a lot as well. .01 and 1% are really different at the end of the year. Um, for the record, I should state that ally at the time that I signed up boasted that 1% interest rate, um, at the sign-up time. But I believe now it’s dropped 2.5%. So I might be shopping for a new bank holler. Let me know what you know.  Um, Oh, I also have to tell you while we’re talking about interest rates, high interest rates on savings accounts, high interest rates on savings accounts equals good. High interest rates on credit cards, however, equals bad because the cash is flowing in the other direction there. Um, for a credit card, you are paying the interest, not earning it because in that, in that case, you’re the borrower, not the lender. Okay, there we go. So that’s lesson number one, the value of web banks and higher interest rates on savings accounts. 

Lesson number two, what the book refers to as the Holy Trinity of savings at the time that I read this book, read it, wow. At the time that I started, um, I started shaving off 10% of every check that I made. Every single check I received. Hence percent of that money went directly into an account dedicated for emergencies.  Another 10% got shaved off and went over into a retirement account, which would later be shipped off into an IRA. But let’s skip that for now. Um, where were we? 10% to emergency fund. 10% went to a retirement fund and then 15. And when I say fund, I mean savings account, and then 15% of each check went to yet another web bank savings account to be paying my taxes. So, yeah, that’s 35% of each check that I would ship directly off to a high interest yielding savings account. And each of those accounts has made me hundreds of dollars. Yay. Great. Oh, on the subject of those of the Holy Trinity of savings, I also learned the value of naming your accounts. Most banks, especially online banks will let you give a nickname to your savings account. I am here to tell you that you are more likely to feed a savings account called the house of my dreams or my first film versus a savings account ending in numbers. Right? Um, but you could call yours whatever you want. You could call it F You, Uncle Sam, whatever makes you feel funky, whatever inspires you to throw money in that direction, you could get very creative here. See there is creativity to the financial side of the dance life. Um, okay. So all of that is to say there are a lot of small changes you can make on your own that will really change your big financial picture. But I do want to underline the importance of having a solid team, um, throughout the rest of this episode. You’ll hear me say, ask your agent or ask your CPA a lot again, don’t be afraid to ask questions about money. It’s okay. If you don’t know, in fact, it’s your CPA’s job to know more about taxes than you do, and your agents exist not only to send you on auditions, but to help you understand the terms of your contracts, to make sure that you are agreeing to a fair wage. And then yes, of course, to make sure that you are receiving that fair wage. Um, super shout out, by the way, to all my friends at CTG clear talent group and to Tim O’Brien and Misha Goetz specifically who joined me in episode 34, that one is must listen, go ahead and give that, uh, give that a listen. Okay.

 Moving right along now, I’m going to move into some more gig specific numbers. I want to say that I have advocated for unionizing in the past. I helped unionize music videos and when a union contract for a tour, but this episode is really not about union versus non-union work. Um, and while we’re on the subject, I really want to address this common misconception that union contracts are about making you more money. Um, this is just simply not true. Union contracts don’t mean more money, but it also does mean more protection and more support in terms of what’s covered in terms of where the money goes like health and pension contributions.  And it also means that you’ll have much more support to make a dispute in the event that something goes wrong or the terms of the agreement aren’t met. All right, here we go. Dancers and dollars. Mind you. This is specifically dancers as in dance performers, not teachers or studio owners or choreographers. Also keep in mind that these numbers do change over time. I’m recording in March of 2021, and I’m using the numbers relevant to today. Also, just to keep it focused, I’m only going to discuss rates, not penalty fees or working conditions like dressing rooms, warm up spaces, releases, breaks, turnaround times, et cetera. So we’re going to start off by taking a look at the industry standard rates for non-union projects. I’m referring to the Dancers Alliance website, which is dancersalliance.org That will be in the show notes, um, which is by the way, super user-friendly and all of this is there in plain English. I really encourage you to do a little deeper digging yourself. All right, Dancer’s Alliance live shows industrials and non-union music videos. Your rehearsal rate with agency fee on top of these minimum rates would be $175 for a one to four hour rehearsal day. That’s a half day at $175. Anything over that four hours becomes time and a half a full eight hour rehearsal day would be at $250. Anything over eight hours becomes time and a half for a show day or a shoot day. We’re looking at a $500 minimum. The, the rate for a rehearsal on the same day as a show is open to negotiation. You would expect to receive $150 minimum per travel day or retainer day. If you’re working outside of your hometown, you would also receive per diem. On top of that travel day, pay a per diem, by the way, is a Latin phrase that translates to by the day.  This term also refers to the amount of money paid to employees for different types of daily scenarios. Um, most common uses for per diem are tips, food. Um, you know, other odd incurred costs that you have when you’re out there in the world, working away from your normal workspace in Los Angeles. The average per diem rate is $66 per day. In New York, It’s $76. In Las Vegas, It’s $61. In Atlanta and Miami, that’s both $66. There is a full list of those on the Dancer’s Alliance website. Go check that out. All right. Now, if performers are requested to supply their own costumes, uh, including footwear wardrobe items will be compensated at $25 per outfit. That’s total, not per day and $15 per pair of shoes. Ah, while we’re on the wardrobe, subject fittings outside of a rehearsal day will be paid at $50 per hour.  Fittings on a rehearsal day are applied to the time that you’ve worked. So most fittings usually happen on record. Okay. If the terms that I just stated, aren’t met on a project, talk to your agent, simple as that. Now music videos are now covered by SAG-AFTRA. Yeah, yes, we are celebrating this because music videos used to be the Wild Wild West, and now they are slightly less wild. A dancer, It’s it’s not common that a dancer would be paid in food like in pizza and beer to perform in a music video. Now, dancer rates are determined by the video budget. Um, dancers make a minimum of 500 for a 12 hour shoot day for all videos with a budget of 50,000 or higher all performers receive safety, provisions, health and pension contributions and usage fees. This is great. Now the DA website has a super helpful cheat sheet on their website that I have included in the show notes as well. Um, but because I mentioned safety provisions, I want to talk about that for just one second. Although it deserves an episode entirely unto itself, music videos have language for quote, extraordinary risk circumstances and quote. This is AKA hazardous conditions. Um, anything from dancing on unusual surfaces to aerial work or trampoline work, or even wearing gear that’s not made for dance like ski boots or skis or a head dress or mask that compromises your vision. All of these are considered extraordinary risk circumstances, but on a music video, even significant floor work on concrete may be considered hazardous. So on a music video specifically with a budget of a hundred thousand or less dancers are entitled to an additional $50 per day videos with a budget of above 100,000 are entitled to an additional one, $100 per day. Now, no matter what the project, if you feel that the work you’re being asked to do is a threat to your safety or wellbeing, talk to your agent period, the end. Um, and also the next time you open your phone to scroll through Instagram, just go scroll through Dancer’s Alliance website instead. Okay, the end, moving on.  

Okay. Moving on SAG-AFTRA contracts, as I mentioned for dancers, these usually fall up or four main categories, but there are so, so, so many more like dubbing, voiceover, um, news broadcast, et cetera. There’s a lot, but, um, we’re going to focus specifically on TV, theatrical, commercial and new media. Now it bears mentioning, there are a lot of changes going on, um, especially in the TV and theatrical contracts, like literally as we speak. So even if you’re a person who works on these contracts regularly, you should consider taking a look at the, 2020 TV theatrical summary, which is linked in the show notes of this episode, and absolutely be standing by for the new net code contracts. Um, but for now we’ll give a brief outline of these four categories and their rates as they stand today, we’ll start with theatrical because let’s face it.  Everybody loves the movies. Theatrical means film or feature. There are basic theatrical agreements, low budget agreements, modified low budget agreements, ultra low budget agreements, short project agreements and student film agreements. Um, each of these contracts, if you couldn’t guess is determined by the budget of the project, um, they’re each slightly different, but pretty well outlined on SAG-AFTRA’s website. If you’re curious about those, um, uh, I suggest you go take a look, but I’ll tell you about the dancer rates for the basic theatrical contracts here. If you are a solo or a duo being hired on a theatrical contract, you’ll be making $1,030 per day. If you’re in a group of three to eight performers, your rate per day would be $902. And if you’re in a group of nine plus, your rate will be $788 per day. All of those are at a $607 rehearsal day rate.  Now weekly rates are higher, um, obviously, but significantly less than all of those numbers. I just mentioned times five. So, uh, bears taking a look if you’ll be on a weekly rate versus a daily rate, um, all right, let’s move into TV contracts. Whoa. This can feel really, really confusing because a contract for scripted episodic, um, like Big Bang Theory, for example, are different from non scripted network shows like competition shows ie. Dancing with the Stars. So you think you can Dance, World Of Dance, um, and award shows like the VMAs or the Oscars or the Grammys. Those are all non-scripted shows and those will fall under what is called the NETCODE or network code. Um, the other slightly muddy element here is that there are countless episodic or scripted series shows now being made by and for SVODs. Do you remember what that stands for? Scripted Video On Demand?  

Yes, we did it, or we did it. We did it together, anyways, actually at this point in the quarantine is hard for me to name five shows that are not Amazon, Netflix, or Hulu or Apple+ originals. These are TV shows in air quotes that are not on TV. Um, to simplify this a little bit, your TV rate and your TV contract depend on the budget of the production, the number of episodes and the episode length. For example, if you’re being hired for, um, the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which is an Amazon original because of its high budget and the episodes are longer than 20 minutes, you’ll be on a TV contract. But if you’re hired for a YouTube series or another streaming show with, uh, with a script, um, that has a budget of less than $1 million, you’ll likely be on a new media contract, which we are talking about next again, I truly do suggest that you ask your agent what type of contract you’ll be working on if they haven’t already told you before your first day of work, simply so that you know what to expect.  

All of these contracts are slightly different now, new media contracts for all streaming platforms, whether they be Amazon or Instagram, whether they be film spots, series’s or commercial spots, as long as the budget is between 50,000 and 1 million, it will be on a new media contract. New media rates really fluctuate depending on the scale of the budget. And, um, again, to be sure if you are on a new media contract or not check with your agent, um, so that you can know how much you should be expecting to make this is important stuff. Okay? Lastly, the coveted commercial contracts, which let’s be real, there are no less complicated than the TV contracts, because so many commercials these days are intended exclusively for online use. So they fall under the new media contract that I just talked about. But if you’re a commercial, your piece of media is intended for TV.  Then there are different classes and different rates of agreements. Class A is the most popular. That means the spot will air in over 20 cities. Class B applies to commercials that will air in six to 20 cities. But if New York is one of those cities, the rates will be higher. We’ll talk about that more in a second, um, class C commercials, these are the least used contracts and they apply to commercials that will air in less than six cities. Okay. Last but not least, there’s the wild spot. The wild spot is a commercial that is aired in over 20 cities like the class a, but these are specific cities. So, um, let me think of an example. Okay. A commercial for In and Out for example, is not going to be running on the East coast because there aren’t any in and outs out there. So these commercials don’t run on specific networks, per se. They run in specific regions and for specific markets. Um, so all those contracts are slightly different, but in one way, they are all the same. They have a rate for first use. That’s what you get paid when you shoot it. And that rate covers the initial usage of the spot. Then the more, the spot airs you will be paid in a residual payment that is of course, unless a buyout was negotiated. Again, we’ll get to that in just a second. Let’s talk class A for a second, if you are a Class, A on-camera performer, that means there’s less than three of you. Your rate is $712 per day. If you’re on a Class A contract and there’s three to five on-camera performers, that rate would be $521 and 20 cents per day. If there are six to eight of you, the rate would be $461 per day. And if there are nine or more performers, that rate would be $381 per day. So you see how that goes. The more performers there are, the lower the rate, the final group nine plus is also known as group nine. Now we’re going to touch on wild spots for a second, just a quick second, because the rates are the same as the Class A rates, which makes sense because they’re also aired in 20 plus cities. So if you want to know what you make on a wild spot, rewind 10 seconds and you’ll have it. Um, okay. Class B rates, they vary depending on whether or not New York is one of the places your spot will air. So that’s fun. Um, but the rates are much higher. If New York is one of those cities, uh, a principal might make $1,347 and 14 cents per day. But without New York as one of those cities that same performer would make $1098 and 75 cents per day.  Fortunately, the numbers get a little easier from there because if you’re in a group of three or more New York or not New York, doesn’t matter. If there are three to five performers, you’d be making $857 and 96 cents. Six to eight performers, you’d be making $758 and 66 cents per day and a nine plus we’re looking at $620 and 24 cents per day. That’s our class B which again, not very commonly used because you can imagine that. Or at least I can imagine that why use that contract with all those fancy New York adjustment, higher, higher rate adjustments when it could just be made on a class, A contract. So I’m so curious about if that even gets used. Really curious, anyways, moving right along. Class C, okay. Class C on camera principals, we’re talking $654 77 cents for the first day. For first use per day, a group of three to five, we’re talking $567 and 44 cents.  A group of six to eight performers is looking at $504 and 33 cents per day. And your group nine is looking at $412 and 39 cents per day for the first use. Of course, all of those rates I just mentioned are for the initial use. That’s what you’ll be paid for the shoot. Now, the rest, rests with the residual gods. Again, a residual payment is simply additional compensation, which is paid once the production is shown beyond its original use covered by the initial compensation. For example, for theatrical film, residuals would be triggered once the film is released anywhere other than theaters, the theater release is the original use. So residuals would start coming in once the film is released as a DVD or aired on TV or online or something like that. Now that is a very grossly, gross get it, gross pun. Um, not gross, like nasty, but gross as in like total. 

Okay. Just to go one tiny layer deeper, there are two different types of residuals. Fixed residuals, which are based on the run of the spot. Um, these exists for TV and new media contracts only. So the amount that you would receive are based on how you were initially paid, and they’re tied to the number of reruns they’re due within 30 days to four months. And that is your fixed residual. The more popular residual structure is a revenue or gross receipts based residual structure. This one’s the most popular it’s tied to sales. Um, they’re due quarterly, or as soon as funds are sufficient enough to cut checks to the entire cast, which by the way, I have been on the receiving end of 1 cent residuals. So I guess that number is substantial enough to cut a check, um, that sort of thing happens. It’s really actually incredible.  Um, so these type of these revenue based residuals, um, they’re based on time and salary units. So the person with the smallest residual is probably the performer who, who worked maybe one day at scale on the project. The bigger slice of the residual pie would go to the person who worked at or above scale for multiple days. And so those, those residuals scale accordingly based on time and salary units, I hope that’s been helpful in, in your understanding of how residuals work. If you are into a deeper dive, I’m going to point you in the direction of, um, a video starring SAG-AFTRA’s own Jennifer Gaudry, it really gets into the nuts and bolts of residuals. Um, if you’re interested in that, God bless you find the video in the show notes. Um, I do want to heads you up though. I usually watch YouTube videos at 1.5 X speed. Um, I watched this one slow and multiple times to understand it. Definitely some layers of understanding here. Now, since we’re here talking about residuals, it’s worth mentioning that most non-union commercials and new media contracts can form to industry standard rates and safety measures, but they do not offer residual structure. Instead you’ll likely receive what’s called a buyout, AKA a usage fee that is a flat rate one-time payment usually bundled in with your initial fee. Um, and it’s intended to cover all additional uses in perpetuity.  I’m not thrilled about buyouts. If you can’t tell, I am thrilled, however about these contracts and the fact that they are always getting slightly better, thanks to the work of our brothers and sisters over the union. It truly is an incredible thing to watch progress happen over time, and to watch the benefits of these contracts start being rolled out. Very, very cool thing. Um, also I want to point out with regards to these SAG-AFTRA contracts, All of the numbers that I just mentioned, all of the numbers that you see on the rate sheets on SAG-AFTRA is website. Those are minimums. There are performers who have their agents negotiate above scale, and I want you to be one of those performers. I want you to become so capable, so exceptional that you are an exception to the minimum. I want to see you not only working, but working above scale, absolutely working above that median $17 and 49 cents per hour. And I believe that you can. Now we are dancers, not mathematicians. Although I do know several dancers that are very, very good with numbers. We can all count to eight at least. And we know how to add. We especially know how to add value. So please danclings know your worth, know your rates. And if there’s something that you’re confused about or concerned about, or don’t understand, choose curiosity, instead of confusion, refer to DA’s website, check the SAG-AFTRA website, check Actor’s Equities website, talk to your team of agents, talk to your team of friends, choose curiosity, get that information, get a clearer picture of your financial life and what you should expect. And then of course choose compassion always for yourself and for others, especially set as things can get heated, especially when we’re talking about money.  Remember that when you’re on a gig, you represent a part of the professional dance community and being treated and paid as a professional comes along with behaving professionally. All right, my friends, I truly hope this episode has been helpful to you. Um, it has been helpful to me in making it, I have learned so, so, so much now, uh, go take these resources and run with them. Do deeper dives, do deeper digging and do make good habits of understanding your contracts before you sign them. All right. Now, go get out into your day, keep your money on your mind. Keep your mind on your money and yes. Keep it funky. I’ll talk to you later  

Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me too. Number two thing. I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit the theDanawilson.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. #16 Serious Silliness with Kat Burns

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #16 Serious Silliness with Kat Burns
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Plainly put, Kathryn Burns is fascinating.  The only thing that is more exciting than her choreography, is the work she did before she even owned the title “2 Time Emmy Winning Choreographer”.  From a post production machine room to UCB and beyond,  we hear about how she learned by DOING, and what it takes to do what she does.  Over 160 episodes of scripted TV is just the beginning… 

Show Notes

Quick Links:

Kat Burns

WTMM Patreon

UCB

My Crazy Ex Audition Submission

Raggle Taggle Dance Hour

Totally Unmorganized

The Dance Room

Transcript:

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

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

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

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

Kat: Yeah!

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

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

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

It’s two, right. She’s a two timer. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I like to call them dance enthusiasts. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exactly. 

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

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

Or not for you. 

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

And they were like, you’re in. 

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

Tiny. We’re all micro types. Yeah. 

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s the point. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m so glad that exists. 

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

Well that is the way LA was my friend.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is what we call full out. 

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

The costumes or the people that were tired? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Werk, my favorite,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your, you’re doing such a good job. 

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

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

Ep. #14 Finding Your People

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #14 Finding Your People
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The first step to finding your tribe is to connect with yourself.  This episode will help you do just that. Learn how to reveal your core values, and shift the way you judge character, to make meaningful and lasting connections (even at a distance).

Show Notes

Quick Links:

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

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

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 than sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place. 

Dana: Hey buddy, how are you doing today? I hope this finds you well. I hope this finds you healthy and if you’re not, I hope that this podcast brings you a tiny bit of hope, at least a handful of words of wisdom and maybe even a chuckle at some point. Okay. I got a lot of great feedback about starting every episode with wins. So here we go. My first win is that I made a delicious dinner thanks to Megan Lawson, her mom Sue and Sue’s mom, Jeanie Cole, Jeanie Cole. That recipe warmed my soul. Thank you so much. Um, also, let’s see. Um, Oh yeah, the seaweed sisters had a very fun virtual, um, super friends build a dance zoom conference call with 15 friends. Um, that we thought would take 40 minutes, which was cute cause we actually wound up dancing for two hours altogether in this big zoom conference. It was hysterical. It was great. It will absolutely happen again. All the friends all over the world get ready. For those of you that don’t know the seaweed sisters, by the way, you will soon stay tuned. Okay, and now this one, this is a big one. Speaking of sisters, I teamed up with my sister in law who happens to be a ridiculously talented illustrator. She’s the one that did the podcast logo for me. So yeah, real good reaaal good. Her name is Bree Reetz and I really suggest that you give her a follow on Instagram at B. R. E. E. dot. R. E. E. T. Z. She’s so lucky. All those double E’s. Anyways, together we have built a few tools for you listeners out there. One of them is what we’re calling the words that move me weekly worksheets. They are digital worksheets that come with every episode and they’re designed to help you process and apply specific topics from the episode. And we created a words that move me doing daily diary for all of you daily doers out there because managing a daily or even a weekly creative project as I’m learning thanks to the podcast can be really, really challenging. So this PDF is what I wish I had when I was doing my daily dances on Instagram for a year and they are designed to basically help you organize and track your progress and sort of help self evaluate. Um, I’m really jazzed about both of them. Both of them can be found on the words that move me Patreon you are only able to access these PDFs when you become a words that move me member. And the way that you do that is by going to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast and find all the different awesome, cool perks and ways that you can become a member. Okay, great. That does it for my wins. Now it’s your turn. Cue the funky music. Okay.  

Oh right. Congratulations! All right, one more thing. These podcasts episodes come out every Wednesday and last week on Thursday I did something really fun that I will definitely be repeating words that move me, had a live Instagram chat with me, Dana and you listeners and we discussed all sorts of topics from the episode. I answered questions, we dug deeper. It was awesome. We will definitely be doing it again, so as you’re listening, please jot down any notes or questions, things that you want to discuss further and join us live on Instagram tomorrow, which if you’re listening to this on the day of its release, which is April 1st then tomorrow will be Thursday, April 2nd at 5:00 PM Pacific on Instagram. You can find that at either words that move me podcast on Instagram or on my account, which is DanaDaners. Okay, let’s get to it. 

The topic of this episode is finding your tribe and if that phrase is a little bit confusing to you, I’ll explain by saying I guess tribe in the modern sense refers to the people that you choose to connect with.  These are the people that you are most comfortable with. You don’t fake it with them, you know, with your tribe, you never have to try to fit in. You just are yourself and you belong. And there’s a difference there. A very specific difference. These are probably people that you share values with. They don’t need to be family or best friends or people that you talk to every day. Sometimes they’re coworkers, sometimes they’re people that you’ve met a couple times, but you just really fit with. These are your tribe. You have probably heard of a quote by a guy called Jim Roan who says that you are the average of the five people that you spend the most time with. Okay, well I have been doing my part to flatten the Corona curve for like 25 days now and I’m starting to wonder, am I still me when I don’t spend time with other people?  It’s wild. Uh, but I have run a few tests and yes, I am in fact still me. Fortunately for me, and fortunately for you, if you’re a person that likes me, um, but I am sort of wondering if Jim’s theory is being debunked here with this social distancing quarantine situation. Because if my, we’ll call it a “me”ness I guess is linked to the amount of time I spend with other people. Then am I less me when I spend less time with other people or am I more me by spending more time with myself? That’s kind of what it feels like, but it’s bringing up a lot of questions about togetherness and tribes and people. Like, uh, do opposites attract or do birds of a feather flock together? See what I mean? And Oh, also why am I doing a podcast about finding your tribe when most people are strongly encouraged, if not legally obligated to keep to themselves? Well, I have the answer to one of those questions. I am doing this podcast because I believe the best way to find your tribe is to connect with and find yourself.  

I explained your tribe as being people that you have similar values with. Well, it would make sense then that having clearly defined values for yourself would sort of make it easier to connect with other people who have those same values. For many of us, our core values are being challenged right now, every day, especially if you’re a person that values human interaction, for example. Um, so this is a really good time, I think to take a closer look at all of that. If you’re sitting in thinking to yourself, uh, I don’t think I know my values. What are values? Give me an example. Um, I’ve got you. I’ve got you. You can undoubtedly Google core values and find a boatload of verbs. Just mad verbs to choose from. Like creativity, as I mentioned, social interaction. Um, humor, wit, collaboration. I dunno, you name it, but I like to think of values, less of something that you would choose off a list and more as something that you would reveal to yourself. It’s something that’s already inside you. You just have to uncover it. So the way that I’m going to ask you to uncover it. Oh, and by the way, I would suggest that even if you think know what your core values are, you give this exercise a whirl. Okay, think of two scenarios. The first one is the best moment that ever happened in your life that you can remember. What is like your highlight the highlight, and then ask what was going on there. What were you experiencing? What was great about that?  

Okay, now think of a truly awful moment, your least favorite moment, the moment you wish you could delete what was happening there, what was not happening there? More specifically. All right, so the answers to these questions should reveal several values. Now think out of those which are essential to life, which are essential to the way that you operate on a daily basis. Could you come up with like five of those values that without which you simply wouldn’t be you? Okay. Those are your core values. Great. Some of my core values are humor and spontaneity, so I find a lot of tribesmen with roots in improv and comedy and acting. Shout out Liza Koshy. Dang, you’re funny. Shout out Kat Burns. Holy smokes and the Raggle Taggle Dance Hour at UCB. Look out Kat Burns episode coming soon. So excited. Um, also I really value technique, style and obviously movement.  

So it’s no wonder that I’ve found most of my besties through dance. I also value boldness and variety in fashion, in art, in food, all of it. So it’s no wonder that I flock to the coasts and to big cities. Now think for a second about what activities and communities run rich with your values. And I don’t necessarily mean physical locations. Thanks to the internet and thanks to our lockdown, we’re all getting a masterclass in finding what we’re looking for and getting what we need even without leaving the house. I do believe it’s possible to find your tribe from inside your home.  

All right. Finding your tribe isn’t just about where you are, but also how you filter. I love this quote by Klaus Kinski. I hope I’m saying that right. It’s kind of fun. Klaus Kinskii he says “One should judge a man mainly by his depravities. Virtues can be faked. Depravities are real.” Let’s run that back one more time. One should judge a man mainly by his depravities. Virtues can be faked. Depravities are real. Let’s break that down. Virtues. All right. Virtues are behaviors like, um, gentleness, sincerity, bravery, compassion. They’re admirable qualities. Depravity is not a word that’s used much anymore I’d like to point out, if you don’t know what it means, you’re not alone, but Holy smokes. If that came out on a Scrabble board, Whoa, I’d be stoked on you. Okay. Depravities are acts of wickedness or evil, like taunting, torturing, bullying, discrimination, and worse. The point of the quote is that people might pretend to be nice or trustworthy or brave or caring or compassionate, but most people are not that likely to pretend to be rude to the waiter.  They don’t pretend to tease or make fun of or taunt someone. They’re actually doing that thing. That’s just who they are. So Klaus Kinski is saying that we should use those hints when we’re filtering for our tribesmen instead of the virtues. I really love this quote. It was monumental for me because as I mentioned in episode six I think, The Gift of Fear life has trained me to see the best in people and I used to be very, very quick to overlook somebody shortcomings, especially if there were virtues like talent that I could oogle over. Well, I’m a little older and a little wiser now and I know people who are at the top of their field who are as talented as they are kind. They create without destroying things and people along the way. They didn’t push others down to get to the top. They actually brought people with them. They are my tribe. I prefer them, which brings me to the seaweed sisters. The seaweed sisters are my tribe, my tribesmen, my tribes, women, my tribes, weeds, tribe, sisters, trimesters. Okay. I could tell you a lot of words about the seaweed sisters, but I would really, really rather show you we are a visual spectacle to behold. The seaweed sisters are Jillian Myers, Megan Lawson and myself and we have been making all sorts of things that we’re proud of for the last six years and we have more ideas than the next six years could hold. Go ahead and check out the seaweedsisters.com if I am peaking your interest here. Okay, today is April 1st, 2020 and the seaweed sisters had big plans for April, but as the great prophet Mike Tyson once said, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. Well if you’re like me, the current circumstances have your teeth feeling like speed bags, but this month the podcast and I are punching back. So tell your friends to glove up. Literally you should be wearing gloves and you should definitely, definitely stop touching your face so often. Um, anyways, put your boxing gloves on because this month of podcasts go in. This episode is about finding yourself and your tribe and I’m so glad that I have found me and mine the rest of the month we’re going to take some time to look at other things, Seaweed, the power of play, exploration, discovery, and serious silliness, all of which I think are tremendously important values for a time like this, you will absolutely not want to miss a single episode. So please subscribe. Don’t miss a beat. And thank you so, so, so much for listening. Stay safe, stay soapy and keep it funky.  

That’s you are 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 that move on member. So kickball changeover to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. Alright everybody now I’m really done. We’re done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.