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. #57 Making Good Choices with Galen Hooks

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

Quick Links:

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

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

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

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

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

Transcript:

Intro: Welcome to words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, Dana Wilson. And I move people. I dance, I choreograph, I coach. And the only thing that I love more than life is sharing. So if you are someone who loves to work and laugh and you’re looking to rewrite the starving artists story, then you’re in the right place. 

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

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

Galen: Hi Dana.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh I’m so sure you do 

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

On like on a human plane. 

Exactly. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do, do you mean creative choices? 

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

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

Oh, do it bring it yes. 

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

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

Right, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. 

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

Oh my gosh, 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for having me. 

My pleasure, my pleasure.  

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

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

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