Intro: This is words that move me. The podcast were movers and shakers. Like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hello. Hello, everybody. Welcome to words that move me. I’m Dana and I am so stoked that you are here. I’m stoked to be talking to you. Number one, because the subject matter of this episode is near and dear to my heart. I think it’s very important, very valuable, but number two, because right now I am talking to you from my homemade podcast booth, which I have appropriately named the pod. Um, my husband and I worked on it together. And I think it sounds really great. I dunno, you tell me, I would love to hear some feedback either over @wordsthatmovemepodcast on Instagram, or you are always welcome to leave a comment on theDanawilson.com/podcast Also, if you’re digging what you’re hearing, I’m not sure. I think, I think my listeners are pretty split 50, 50 half of you guys over listening on Spotify. And half of you are listening on Apple podcasts, but if it sounds great, if you’re digging what you’re hearing in terms of quality and content, please do leave a review and a rating. Download these episodes, keep them with you all the time. I do so appreciate it. Your reviews and your ratings help other people find the podcast more easily so it really is so, so helpful to me and to the community. Appreciate that. Um, okay. If you’re new, let me introduce the format of the show. I usually begin every episode with wins. I think it’s really important to celebrate what’s going well in all of our worlds, especially in times where it might seem like nothing is going well. It’s important to celebrate your wins no matter how big, no matter how small. So this week I will start by celebrating my larger than a bread box size win, which is my podcast studio. I’m so jazzed about it. It feels so good. So glad to not be crammed in my closet, ruffling against items and jackets and, you know, rubbing my shins up against this awkwardly sized step stool so that I can be at the right height to reach a microphone, the pits. Um, now I am not crammed in a closet. I am actually standing very comfortably in front of a closet and inside of this awesome booth that reminds me of my husband and all of his many talents. So that is my win today. Now it is your turn. What’s going well in your world.
Oh right. Congrats. Keep winning. I’m so proud of you. All right. Now in episode 36, the assistant, I talked about how to be and how to have a great assistant spoiler alert. There is really just one thing that you need to do on both sides. And that is have a great relationship. I actually do give some specific steps to achieving and maintaining that relationship and really all relationships truly in that episode. So if you haven’t heard it think about tuning back into episode 36. Um, in that episode, I also talk about a few of my assistant fails, like big ones, big, big learning opportunities that I share with you so that you don’t have to learn the hard way. This episode is a branch off of one of those stories. So last year in 2019, while I was working as an associate choreographer on, in the Heights, under our supervising choreographer, Christopher Scott, he mentioned to me one day, not in a good way, not in a bad way, but just as something that he noticed that I give very noticeable feedback sometimes verbally, sometimes non-verbally is it possible to do both simultaneously? It’s true. I’ve noticed this about myself even before he said the words, but once he said it, it was like somebody had just held a magnifying mirror right up in my face and my head is nodding blatantly. Um, yeah, I, I, I do think I kind of report the news constantly with my body non-verbally and with my voice, if any of you have taken class with me, you know, that to be true, I’m a pretty vocal class taker. It’s obvious when I’m loving it. Um, and it’s obvious when I have questions. I love asking questions during class. I do try to ask them at appropriate times, but when Chris gave me this feedback, I started to notice it more and more often. I nod a lot. I smile. I grin really, really big when I’m in favor of, or in agreement of what’s going on, or I hold really, really still, if I’m not in favor of, or don’t understand exactly what’s going on. So I started noticing, noticing this about myself and in other people a lot. And then I saw this brilliant human on Instagram. Her handle is at @hicaitlinreilly I think R E I L L Y. So that’s at H I C A I T L I N R E I L L Y. I found her thanks to my assistant and technical director, Malia Baker, Caitlin has this parody impression of the overactive listener. And I was like floored by it. I’m like, yes, this is a thing. And I have thoughts about this thing. I’ll be sure to tag Caitlin’s Instagram video in the quick links of the show notes of this episode. So if you’re interested in finding that, go to the show notes too, to check that out. So when I saw this very masterful piece of comedy, I knew that this is actually a pretty serious thing. And I have thoughts about it. Let’s dig in to being an active reactor and how to hold this space.
Alright, Most of the relationships in your life, like the ones you have with your parents, your friends, significant others, teachers and so on and so forth are not focused on objectivity. Those relationships, typically very openly without pause, either show agreement or disagreement or approval or disapproval likes or dislikes. When I say show, I actually should say demonstrate perhaps the demonstration of agreement or disagreement is verbal. “Oh my God. Yes. Oh totally. Oh my God. Yes.” Or, “Oh God. No. Oh my God. Why would you think that? I can’t believe he just said that.” Or perhaps it’s nonverbal the shaking of a head or the crossing of arms either way, be it verbal or nonverbal disagreement usually causes discomfort that we either avoid or embrace super shout out. By the way to episode 30 with Spenser Theberge and Jermaine Spivey, where we talked about how to disagree with people that you love. Oh my gosh. So good. Well, all that to say, I’m learning a lot about conflict. I’m learning a lot about how my dance training can help me to see opportunity in conflict. I’m learning a lot about how to manage unwanted feelings that crop up around conflict, like guilt, regret, feeling misunderstood, et cetera, and okay, sorry. I’ve gotten sidetracked. Most of the relationships in your life are not rooted in objectivity. Most of our training tells us that it is good to agree with people and to be agreeable, and that it’s bad to disagree or be in conflict as a result. So many of us are trained into this physicalizing and verbalizing of our agreement, our approval, our being pleased and our pleasantness. And this might not be a bad thing, but there are certainly times when it isn’t the best thing to do this episode zooms out to really observe the effects of that verbal nonverbal feedback and it considers the alternatives. One in particular being neutrality, the alternative to being an overactive listener is holding the space. You may have heard of this phrase, holding the space, um, because it’s actually become a bit of a popular saying, but what does it actually mean? One of my favorite podcasters, Dr. Katrina Ubell has a great episode about holding the space. It’s episode number 157 of her podcast, weight loss for busy physicians stay with me here, and it is called holding space for yourself while you lose weight. Okay. Again, stay with me here. Don’t get distracted. Doctor Ubell’s podcast is geared towards physicians and weight loss, but the concept of holding the space can be practiced by everyone and applied to darn near any conversation. Dr. Ubell, his episode is a fabulous place to continue learning about this concept. If it’s interesting to you, and if you want to hear more after this podcast, her podcast is also an exquisite resource If you’re interested in weight loss or finding freedom in your relationship with food, yes. Even if you are not a busy physician. I think of the phrase, holding the space as kind of a modern, more specific way of saying ‘being a shoulder to cry on,’ you’re allowing a safe and open space for somebody to discuss something difficult or painful. Sometimes involving tears holding the space is a specific practice, but it’s not by any means. One specific thing that has one specific definition. To explain holding the space. I’ll describe, um, kind of a hypothetical situation here. Imagine that a friend has just gone through something awful. Perhaps let’s say they’ve lost their job. And they open up to talk to you about it. Not holding the space in that situation might look something like you saying, “Oh my God. Yeah. You and like half the country, I completely understand Trust me. Like the exact same thing happened to me. And I’ve been unemployed for like all of quarantine and I totally blindsided me. I know how you feel. I mean, I feel awful. I am right there with you and here’s what you need to do. Let me just tell you, you need to stay positive, pull up your big girl pants and like, get your resume together. You should definitely go on unemployment like now and blabity, blabity, blah,” you, you get the picture. This person may be very well intentioned, but this is definitely not holding the space. When you’re holding this space, you’re listening more than you’re talking. You’re not distracted. You’re not giving advice. You’re not making it about you. You weren’t even trying to make the other person feel better. You’re simply honoring the, they are feeling right now by listening and staying present and gently holding space for them to be exactly as they are.
How does that sound to you? Does that sound like holding the space might be really challenging? Does that sound difficult to you? The process of keeping a neutral zone for your friend to sort of be not neutral in. Dr. Ubell describes holding the space, like holding a really big pillow, kind of with your arms out in front of you really gently, really light doesn’t require much effort. You know, kind of like the way you would hold a big empty box. It shouldn’t require much effort from the listening party, but here’s the real caveat. The real important part is that holding the space requires no effort from the other party. If you’re the person holding the space, the person in this space shouldn’t need to worry at all about holding you. In Dr. Ubell, his episode, she mentions another podcaster named Connor Beaton and his podcast called Man Talks Podcast. Connor describes holding the space as holding a metaphorical bucket for someone else to mentally and emotionally vomit into. Well, me and my seven year old humor really do find that quite appropriate. It doesn’t take much effort for me to hold this bucket for you. Go for it mentally and emotionally spew into this. High five If you just caught my Wayne’s world reference. Alright, So holding the space requires that you listen to hear people’s thoughts. It also requires that you manage your own thoughts and don’t make the moment about you so that the person in need of the bucket doesn’t need to hold the bucket for you. So that’s how you hold the space for others, but you can also hold space for yourself. This can be sticky because if holding the space is not making it about you, then how do you hold the space for you without making it about you, but it’s you, that’s in the space and you’re holding the space for you? It’s kind of a mind trick, but believe it or not, you can allow yourself the space to mentally and emotionally spew without telling yourself “Ew gross, dude, pull it together, Ugh, how could you let that happen? You’re so sloppy. Yuck.” So for me, holding the space for myself usually starts with a totally judgment free download a thought download, a thought dump or a kind of a free journaling. Usually I do this with pen to paper. Sometimes it’s fingers to keys, either way It’s a stream of consciousness writing without any judgment, whatever crops up comes out. Then I read what I’ve written and I hold the space for the person that wrote those words. I hold the space as if person who wrote those words was my best friend. I get curious. And I ask questions when it’s appropriate, I get compassionate, and I use kind language with myself. Now, whether you’re holding space for yourself or for someone else, holding space requires clean thinking. Now you’re gonna make judgments. You are a human being, and that is what we do, but it is possible that you can make judgments and set them free and get back to holding the bucket. You don’t need to use your hands to hold your judgments, use your hands to hold the bucket. It’s possible that you can make judgements and not voice them or show them physically. So now we’ve talked a little bit about holding the space for someone else and holding the space for yourself. I want to broach a new subject, holding creative space. In other words, holding space in a creative setting, be it a rehearsal, a brainstorm meeting, or even an interview. New ideas are presented as as little seeds, sprouts, tiny hatchlings, little fragile, but full of potential. Not fully formed yet, in those early stages. Ideas have no walls and they have no ceilings. And when you give a verbal yes or no, or even a nonverbal, “Oh my God, I love it.” Or “no, not quite working.” You wind up putting up walls and setting the ceiling for that tiny sapling of an idea. What happens if you just let that seed fall into the ground and hold the space while it sprouts? Yes. You can give it a little water by asking questions that reveal what it might become. Yes. You can ask it. How do I help you grow? But you don’t need to immediately claim what that seed will become. A big evergreen, a tomato plant, a basal plant. You guys all know I’m super fond of the basil. So here’s the other thing about showing your approval right away. And I’m speaking, especially to myself, as I say this, because I am actively working on this is when you respond with kind of an all in attitude at the suggestion of an idea, it can be kind of suspicious. Who in their right mind would fully agree and jump on board with something that’s not even be, that’s not even been fleshed out yet? That’s not even sprouted. You know, it, it can be a little bit concerning. In addition to that, one enthusiastic nod turns into another. That can limit the type of questions that get asked. If any, at all, speaking of nods of when somebody has presented a tiny hatchling or a thought, an idea, and you nod in approval, it’s very likely that you’re nodding in approval of what you see, not what the person has said. As the idea is new, It’s possible that they’re not even seeing it fully yet either. Now that can be risky because from that point on, you’re claiming that idea’s yours. Mine not theirs. Great not better. So how can you help hold the tiny seed, the little hatchling, the new idea and care for it as ours, not yours. How can you let it be best? Not just great, because let’s be honest. Some very early ideas are great, especially those first reaction, gut impulse, Holy cow, listen to this ideas. Yeah, they probably are great, but you might be keeping a great idea from being even better by putting your exclamation mark at the end of a sentence that could be an ellipsis. You know what I’m saying? What happens if you let it be open-ended. Now here’s the tricky part, when you’re in a creative, especially in a collaborative situation, you’re likely expected to not just hold the space, but to step into it and contribute. So one of the most important things you can do as a collaborator is check the temperature of when you should be holding space and when you should be jumping in, okay, these are the two questions I like to ask myself. The first question is, am I being asked for my opinion, if no, then keep holding the space. If yes, then go ahead and jump in. But immediately after deciding to step in to this conversation, I asked myself the second question, am I leaving room for other people’s opinions? See, even from the inside of the creative space, you can still hold space for other ideas. I like to think of this as like a swimming pool. It is definitely possible for more than one person to be in the pool. But if one person is splashing around like crazy person, then it makes it hard for other people to be seen and to be heard and to well swim. So let’s get out of that metaphor and let’s jump into another example to kind of illustrate the difference between leaving room for other opinions and not leaving room for other opinions. Let’s say that, um, collaborator A says, “Ooh, what do you think about breaking into a tap section right here?” They say, what do you think? So I’m taking that as an opportunity to share my opinion and opinion that doesn’t leave room for others might sound something like this, “sick that would be so dope. Yo, you have to get Chloe Arnold. Nobody is better than she is. It has to be Chloe. That’s it period the end.” or something like this, “maybe. Ooh, um, maybe, but they’d have to wear sneakers or something soft in their feet because otherwise we’d have to buy mics to capture the sound and then get hardwood flooring. And really that’s just a total mess. And like kind of out of our budget.” that’s an example of not leaving room for other opinions. Here’s what it would sound like if you were leaving room for other opinions, collaborator A says, “Hey, what do you think about breaking into a tap section right here?” A person who’s holding the space might say, “Ooh, I love that idea. Is there a world where it’s like kind of a golden age of film type song and dance soft shoe thing? Or I don’t know what other styles call to you?” or we could take the yes and approach one of my favorites. And if you’re not familiar with the concept of yes, and you might journey back in time to episode number 15, where my seaweed sisters and I talk a bit about our creative process and how we have kept holding the space for each other for over six years. Alright. So a Yes. And approach to an answer to this question. What do you think about breaking into a tap section? Might look something like this. “Ah, I can see that as being a super grounded and soulful moment. And could it be done with plastic cups on our feet instead of traditional tap shoes that might give it the quirk and the comedic element that is at the heart of this piece?” I’m saying yes. And I’m contributing an additional idea. I love asking questions. Like, is there a world where, or is it possible that we and I love playing? Yes. And. Can you see how holding the space even from inside the creative space, affords that creative idea to become ours? Not mine. It leaves no pun intended a room for the idea to grow into something. Instead of committing that idea to its current state, a tiny little seed. Now, trust me, it’s easier said than done. I think it’s pretty clear the value of holding space in a creative setting, not just from the outside, but from the inside as well. One last thing I’d like to include is that you should have a plan for what you might do and say, and think if creative space isn’t held for you. In that moment, hold it for yourself. Try not to get distracted, keep holding space for yourself, especially, but also for the room. Collaboration is really quite simple, but it’s not always easy. Trust me. It’s much easier said than done to hold the space in a creative setting. I am not a master of that, but I am committed to practicing it. And this is the great thing about holding space. You can practice literally any time, whether you’re in conversation with someone else or with yourself or in a room, creating a work. The other great thing is that the more you practice in one area, be it holding the space for yourself or someone else or in a collaboration. The better you get at all three, because they are more the same than they are different. Just like us I imagine.
And with that ladies and gentlemen, I will bid you adieu. Thank you so much to listening. Thank you for being open to holding the space and please, as this is a concept that I am absolutely working on myself. I would love to hear your feedback about this episode, about any tricks or trials that you’ve encountered in holding space, especially in creative collaborative circumstances. Again, please leave comments on Instagram over @wordsthatmovemepodcast or leave a comment on the website, theDanawilson.com/podcast And um, let’s see what else? Oh yeah. Don’t forget to keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon.
Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to become a words that move me member. So kickball, changeover, patreon.com/wtmmpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody. Now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.
Intro: This is words that move me. The podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hello, Hello, good people. And how are you? I’m Dana. And this is words that move me. Welcome back. If you are a regular and welcome, welcome If you’re new here, I am so stoked to be talking to you today. And as always, I am jazzed about this episode, but of course we’re not jumping right in. Oh no, that would be rude. It’s like dancing. Before you warm up, I’m going to give you this warm up. This is where I’d like to start today. Today, I’m starting with my win, which is very common practice here at the podcast. We always start with a win, but this win comes with a very deep and personal story. Six years ago, my two best friends, Megan Lawson, Jillian Myers, and myself created I’ll call it a whimsy. We created a whimsy that we now call the seaweed sisters. We are a dance… Well, you know what? I’ll take that back. We are a trio. We are a trio that dances. We are a trio that makes things. We are a trio that teaches. We are a trio that performs. And now I can say we are a trio that inspires. Here comes the, win just a few days ago, I got a FaceTime call from my sister. I’m always very excited when those happen. No offense, SIS, but I’m even more excited when I hit accept and it’s my niece taking up the full frame, not my sister. So my niece is seven. I believe. Well, seven and a little bit more than a half. I think she turns eight in January. She called me as if she was like producing a film. She said, Dana, do you have a minute to talk? I was like for you. Absolutely. And she goes, I have a question. I think you’re going to like it. I was like, okay, I can’t wait. And she goes, how did you do the seaweed sister’s video. The one in the pool. The first one, I was like A. I love that. You remember my group, the seaweed sister. She’s been watching these videos since she was born B. I’m so glad that she knows that the first one was the one that happened in the pool. Although on a technicality, we’ve done two that involved pools, but only one that involves a pool with water. I digress. Number three. I love that. She wants to know how I made it and that she thinks I can tell her the answer to that over a FaceTime call. This is great. I say, why, why do you ask? And she said, well, well, Charlotte and I, Charlotte is her sister, my niece, who’s younger, Charlotte and I are creating her words. Exactly Charlotte and I are creating the fishy sisters. And we would like to remake your seaweed sisters video. So I’m going to need to know how you did that. And I was like, amazing. This is great. Okay. Well, first you’re going to need, um, costumes. So we talked about what her costumes are going to be. She showed me all of her available leggings, which by the way, were many good job sis, that kid is stocked on the legging front. Um, she showed me the color options. I told her, she’s going to need to make a swim cap with a hot glued rhinestones on it. I told her she would need adult supervision for that. Um, she was very excited about the costuming. I asked her if she was prepared to do the moves, she was like, Oh yeah, the moves. I’m not so worried about the moves, but how did you actually make the movie? And I was like, well, that’s, you’re, you’re probably gonna need some help there with, with that as well. You’ll need a camera operator. And she says, what’s an operator. And I said, camera operators, the person that operates the camera, they control where it is and how it moves and whether or not it’s on and recording. And she goes, Oh, okay. That can be my mom. And I was like, nice. Okay. So we’ve got a camera operator. I can send your mom a shot list. And she says, what’s a shot. And I say, a shot list is basically a recipe for the movie. It tells you what you need and how much of it. And when to put it in. And she was like, okay, great. So you can send us the shot list in the mail and then I’ll do the costumes and we’ll do the dancing. And we will make the fishy sisters video. And I, this conversation, I don’t know how, but it wound up lasting, It was like 30 minute conversation. We got very specific about how she will be remaking the seaweed sisters as the fishy sisters. I’m counting this away in a, because I’m completely smitten that I have a niece that’s interested in making things and B because I know we forget it. Sometimes I have to say it here, Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And I couldn’t be more flattered that my own blood, the magical Emilia is going to be flattering the seaweed sisters by creating a remake of the seaweed sisters. First video. So thrilled, please do be on the lookout. I will gladly be sharing that on the socials over at words that move me podcasts. And on my personal probably I’m DanaDaners on the gram. All right. That’s my win. Had to get it out. Thank you for listening to that. Now, what is your win? What’s going well in your world in particular, who and what are you inspiring these days? Obviously I’m open to any answer. The answer to my question was a seven year old. I’m here for all of it.
All right. My friend, congrats and keep winning. I’m so proud of you and I know you can do it forever. Okay. Let’s get into this interview today. I’m so jazzed to be sharing this conversation with you guys. This was part of three interviews that I did in collaboration with my friends over at CLI studios. Over the summer, they had a 2020 dance experience. And during that 2020 experience words that move me and CLI teamed up to hold these three interviews. I talked to Heather Morris, Dexter Carr. And today I am sharing with you the conversation that I had with the one and only Joshua Smith. Josh is a person that I had been admiring from afar for quite a while, but he and I had never met before this day, before we actually sat down and had this conversation, I was a little nervous. I’ll be totally honest, but Josh was completely open, so friendly, so warm and so tremendously insightful. I was, I was wrapped. Top-to-bottom so engaged and so excited. So I hope you are too. I hope you get a lot out of this conversation. I know Josh has a lot to offer, um, tiny little backstory on Josh. He’s born in Durham, North Carolina. He moved to Atlanta when he was young. He has absolutely made his mark on the entertainment industry by performing with mega stars like Usher and Chris Brown. He actually won the 2019 soul train award for best dance performance in Chris Brown’s video, No Guidance. He is an outstanding teacher. He champions a healthy mindset. He champions hard work, and I am just so thrilled for you. Let’s not wait any longer. Enjoy this conversation with Josh Smith.
Dana: Hi everybody. I’m Dana.
Josh: I’m Josh.
Dana: And this is words that move me on CLI how lucky are we? We’re so lucky. And so are you, I might add I’m I know I’m saying that at the top of the interview, maybe I should have reserved that until the end, but, um, I think you’re in for a treat because I feel privileged to be sitting here talking to you today. Josh, I’m so excited. Um, I want to start with this. I know your other half Lindsay. She and I have had, I have had the honor and the pleasure of working with her before, but our professional paths have never crossed. So answer me this is the dance world big or is it very, very small? We like to say it’s such a small world, but I’m like, how has this never happened?
Josh: I think it is a small world. I think just, uh, it’s different avenues. You know what I’m saying? Cause I’ve definitely heard about you and definitely seeing you around for sure. And I think he just different pathway, you know, different artists. We are different. However, we go, so he never got to meet, but this is the perfect time. And we’re here.
Dana: It is. I’m so excited. I have a million D questions and they’re all right here and I should have written them maybe somewhere else, but that’s risky. So let’s start at the almost beginning. I won’t go into birth, but, um, I understand that growing up, you were very athletic soccer, football. Am I missing anything?
Josh: Baseball, basketball, you name it? I ran track for a little bit. I was on the step team. I was in band and I was a drum major.
Dana: Just a couple of extracurriculars. Thanks. Alright. So when I grew up, I, my only extracurricular was dance and I feel a little bit shortsighted in my experience of like team building and learning myself. And I, I really kind of have become sort of an indoor cat more or less. So I’m always really curious when I hear the discussion about dancers are athletes and dance is a sport. I’m curious about that, cause I, because I’m not an athlete I well, or am I, I don’t know. I’m asking you like, where do you stand on dance as a sport and dancers are athletes,
Josh: Dance is definitely a sport. And definitely because we have the same traits and characteristics between the two, you know, you have a coach, you have a choreographer, you know, you have people who are on a team, you know, whether it’s a camp or it’s a team. So where it’s togetherness as we both, we all have to go through these eight hours and there’s regular rehearsals or practice four hours. So the togetherness of it, it’s a team aspect. And then we do have to stretch and keep our body warm and all that we do high magnitude like moves and impact on our bodies is so much. And, uh, it very, very, very, very close. So I do consider dancers as athletes, for sure. Like it’s, it’s a, the same similarities, tough times, blood, sweat, tears, you know, and we, we run it together and that’s how you gotta do it. So if you think that way as a sports, which you are an athlete, then that’s what it is.
Dana: Don’t give me too much confidence. Now you might see me on a field of some sort like, no, I can do this. I’m an athlete. Trust me, tombe pas de bourses. Um, okay. So what is different? Could you put a finger on a difference between a dancer and an athlete or are we just straight up
Josh: You know, I guess it’s different because a basketball player and a football player, not the same, you know, and you’re an athlete, but it’s different magnitude and impact on your body. And I think with that being said, like soccer is more endurance than physical. You know, it is physical, but it’s more endurance, but football is very physical. And the thing about dancing is different genres are different, uh, style of dance for quiet. That b-boy is more physical. You know what I’m saying? And ballet is physical, but in a different way, it’s more a up core, so, and very on your legs. Well, so when you think about it in that way, in that aspect, you know, it’s different, but, um, there’s different way of going about it. Right?
Dana: Right. I like that. I think there’s so many different, you know, dances and artistic expression. It’s nuanced, it’s subjective. It’s not even from one style to the next is not the same. You’re reminding me of a mantra that I, that I harness with my fellow, my two best friends, Megan Lawson and Jillian Meyers, shout out the seaweed sisters. We have a saying, um, our saying is strength is not our strength, but in every sport strength, isn’t the value. Um, it’s focus, placement, endurance, all the things that you just mentioned. So that is cool. I like to now think of the seaweed sisters as athletes as well, even though, even though strength is not our strength, we have different strengths.
Josh: Shout out to y’all because y’all are amazing.
Dana: Thank you so much, man.
Josh: Lindsay was he was giving me a .. rundown, I knew you got, but she gave me a rundown on the seaweed sisters. And I didn’t know about that.
Dana: You got research, you had research before you came into the interview as well. No vice versa. Okay. Okay. Speaking of research, I learned that you want a soul train award in 2019 for No Guidance for Chris Brown. That’s a, that’s a very cool, very prestigious thing because soul train, obviously this is not something that people have decided is new and important, but been around for a very long time. Um, my question is broadly, what is your relationship with external validation? Because a lot of people seek the awards, the credits, the, you know, the relationships and having a credit like that, having an award like that is a pretty big deal. Was that ever a thing that drove you?
Josh: That’s a great question. Um, honestly how my mentality is, I think that, uh, I always looked at it like, yes, I want the awards and I want some know some feedback and people to see my name, but honestly not really, you know, I’m not that type of guy, but not really because even now within my stage of my career, which I’m honored and like so thankful and blessed to be in, you know, I’m not really in the forefront. I don’t, you don’t really see my face too much. I, I do teach when I want to teach. I’m not a teacher of saying that I just want to teach because I just want to get some money to go around the world and teach, see my name. I love teaching when it feels right for me and everything I teach is probably what I’m going through at that moment. So if I teach a ratchet piece, because I want to have fun and not really thinking about doing moves. And sometimes I might, this one, I felt, uh, empathy for so much and you know, vulnerability with this piece I just made and I wanted something way more relaxed to calm my mind down. Cause I didn’t want to have to fake on camera. I don’t like faking anything. So, you know, I, I, I take that with my own personality. I don’t like faking anything. So I don’t seek validation. I like, I go kind of street smarts and I’m really I’m. I was raised in the streets with it and have great family. So not in a bad way, but more so I had street smarts in the sense of, I liked to think. People will know you when they need to know you and the right people should know you. So my whole thing is maybe not millions of people know who I am, but the right people are knowing me because they keep asking me to come back around. And that’s what I want to get to outreach to. You know what I’m saying? They know the people who want to be inspired and thank God they’re inspired by me. I want it to bestow it to people. And everyone knows you can fall in between whenever you get there.
Dana: It’s beautiful. Put a Bow on it and ship it. That sort of speaks to the notion of quality over quantity and being driven by the substance or the process even of the work instead of the end result itself. Yeah.
Josh: Yeah. You can’t know a lot of people do the work and I want to say a lot, but I know people tend to work for the outcome. Oh, I know there’s going to be great. People are gonna love me. Oh my God. Like, I’m going to get this love, but it’s like, to me, I want you to love it. Not just because of me. I want you to love the work in its entirety. So then when you do realize its me like, wow, Josh, you did that. But I don’t really like shouting out to telling people, look at me, look what I did. Look what I choreographed. I did that. No, I want people to get their credit even assistants So whoever is involved is you’re right. You know what I’m saying? Just as my right.
Dana: That’s a really good segue. Something I hadn’t planned on talking about this really important to me is crediting your team. Um, I know that you kind of came up through ranks as being a dancer and an assistant. I would love to know what your experience was in getting credit for the work and how that’s affected the way you credit the people on your team.
Josh: Yes. Um, so, uh, when I started, no, I started with a crew when I moved to LA. I’m not originally from Atlanta. A lot of people think that it’s like a side note, but I’m from Durham, North Carolina research research right there. So Durham, North Carolina. And, um, I moved to Atlanta and I had a crew collision crew, Jeremy Strong, and a couple of people was in that and Cody was affiliated Cody Wiggins. And uh, you know, I had good people surrounding me the whole entire time. And loyalty is a big thing for me. Cause I will be loyal to you. And if my friends or whoever you work with, we know you can be a millionaire and I can still say no, if it doesn’t feel right, you know what I’m saying? So, and I got into the Jamaica Craft, my mentor, fix it, big homie friend, all that great stuff.
Dana: And so talented.
Josh: Like that’s like, you know, a big, big homie of mine. And uh, she taught me law too. You know, as much as she didn’t her career and what she’s continues to do, she, um, trusted me and she showed me the ropes. She showed me what it means to be really a dancer and be a dancer with power. She doesn’t, she told me, I had my manager, China who taught me to say the power of no. And, and saying that don’t look and seek people who will you think are already made it. And you’re getting to that place. When you get to that place, I have to leave my team behind to go meet this person. When all you should really do is bring this person with you to meet each other. So then for, because you know, for a fact, this person has made it already, but this person has rolled with me the whole time. So loyalty is a big thing with me. And then when my loyalty, Jamaica has taught me that and uh, she always held me down. She never did no weird, nothing crazy. Like when this job it’s a job, when she hit me and I said, add for advice. And she was very secretive. Cause he wasn’t like, she was not a person you can get around in Jamaica. Right. When I got around her, if she installed so much knowledge, you know their stuff so much ambition, you know? And like I had it already, but she just said, you know, you’re talented and never let anyone take that away from you. Like not even me, like go as far as you can inspire people as you can. She, the one who told me the right people would see you, even if it got to take four years, cause it’s four or five years ago, nobody really seen me. I was still, you know, I was dance for usher. I didn’t live in LA. I was still going, but no one really knew me, but that’s what I, like I say, no, it’s cool. The attention, not on me right now, but when it is, I’ll be ready.
Dana: I love that attitude. That’s awesome. Thank you for that insight. That’s super cool. Yeah. I, I like to think of the notion that it’s lonely at the top as kind of a lie I would like for it to be very, um, crowded and friendly at the top. I think that that is the top that I want to make.
Josh: I tell people all the time there is room at the table, man. But the good thing to know is, is when you get there, you earned it. But now it’s about holding it. Keep it don’t show it. Don’t talk to me. Why aren’t you? Yeah. You are under a lot of people earned this seat, but do they get to stay here? Longevity? A thing for me, I don’t want to be I’m young. I’m still 28 now. I mean, I said 28 I’m 27. I want to be 28 years here, but I’m 27. And like, um, I think that, I know I have a long way to go. We know people who I do look up to is Rich & Tones and Fatima and Jamaica and hi-hat, these are people who have longevity. These are people who, their generation, another generation and generation after that, they’re still here. You know what I’m saying? And that’s something that I wanted. So I don’t live for now all the time, which I have to do more, but I’m more so like I want my name to be great for years to come. So
Dana: I’m going to ask a question now, what’s your plan for that? How do you, how do you achieve that? Um,
Josh: I’ve been trying it so far, I don’t have the right answers for that, but being a good person, training really stunning and really knowing who and knowing that it’s time with this, but knowing who you are, you know, like I never tried to be perfect or within relationship within, you know, dance. I’m very, very open book. I’m very like, I like to base myself on with, you know, even my own demons or whatever it’s and find me. So if I know I can be the better version of myself and truly be the better version, don’t have to worry about Limelights or personas or you know, all that good stuff. I’ll be okay now eventually I will make it there. So I don’t know when I will make it there.
Dana: I believe that you will, by the way you’re talking right now and I want to be there at the end too, right? Yes. Longevity is so important to me. One of my mentors and inspirations is Toni Basil. She’s 76 years old and could roast me right now like me and my 30 something year 34, a few days ago, self,
Josh: Happy belated birthday!
Dana: Thank you. Thank you. Um, and, and I think part of Basil’s secret to success is persistence. Every single day, she dances, even when she doesn’t want to dance, she does. And I think that that’s something speaks to what you just mentioned about bringing all versions of yourself might not be perfect today. It might not be happy today. It might not be the coolest moves today, but continuing to show up is how you continue to show up. It’s simple as that. It’s nothing earth shattering, no simple, not easy though. Simple, not easy. Um, okay. I’d love to segue into like perception and persona public, um, public presence, maybe dare I say social presence. Um, one of the things that I really admire about you and the way you use your voice, not just in your choreography, but in the social platform is that you’re not afraid to talk about things that are important to you. Yes. The black lives matter movement is tremendously important to you and to so many people. Thank goodness. And we’ll find out we’ll find out yes. If this is something that can be important to everyone. Yes. But, um, I, in this process of learning the world that I live in and becoming really working to become more culturally sensitive when I watched dance, like when I consume dance and when I make it, and here’s what I’m learning that takes time. I mean, it’s very easy to scroll and watch a piece. Yes. But if you want to be sensitive, what you’re watching culturally, racially and otherwise, yes. You are asking, who is this person? Where is this person from? What is this person experience? Where is this person going? What, what does this mean? Like, what does that mean? What does it mean when this person kneels versus when this person kneels, what is the meaning of a movement? So then you have to like, you go, you wind up looking. So a scroll is now taking three and a half hours. I get why people don’t do that. It’s a lot. And, and it doesn’t even, you might not necessarily wind up at right or better, or, but, but it’s responsible and it’s an important time to be. And also we do have time arguably to be doing that. So my question is that was a very long winded way of asking your question, is what might people think about your work on a scroll and what might they learn by going deeper? Okay.
Josh: Okay. Well through dance or just on my page in general.
Dana: Oh man. Let’s talk about dance,
Josh: Dance. Okay. So hopefully when you see, when you scroll through my stuff quality. Cause I, I strive for that. You know, I I’ve danced as we all dance for years, but I’ve tried hard, I can say to not master, but in a sense perfect my style, you know, and I’m moving away that I will love for you to be like that. It’s nice that you know much about this guy, but he looks good.
Dana: Achieved, achieved party of one because when I watch, I’m like, nice. Really? Truly like that word probably happens a lot. Yeah.
Josh: I like that. Just be like, Oh, nice swell. Okay. Then after that, I will hope that you will feel to want to know even a little about me by, because I like to details. Like, even if it’s the slightest thing I like to, why do you, like you might see, you know, I realized that I’ve seen Josh’s clips that he wears all black a lot. Why is that?
Dana: Great example, great example.
Josh: It makes you dig in deeper and it makes you want to see more about me. Like, cause I am like, again, open book. I like wearing my beard, whether it’s clean or not. No, I had this beanie. Why did he have this been here?
Dana: I’ve I’ve heard the beanies of thing. Why, why do you have the beanie on all the tests?
Josh: It was when I was on tour with usher, uh, I was finding myself as a dancer. That’s when I really found just so you know, that’s when I really found myself, like right after that tour, um, as a mover, I had Kento, I had Yusuke. I had Antonio Hudnell, I had Marvelous. I had Quita, you know, Ashley Everett, you know? So it, it was like a lot of power Naeemah, you know what I mean? And um, we did yoga and all this things and it was like, it was just very togetherness. And um, I found my style and uh, I don’t want to drop the question. Tell me the question one more time. Sorry.
Dana: Um, Oh gosh, no, I lost the question. Specifically. The beanie, is there a story? Why is it the, what is it? Is it a signature? It’s a thing. Yeah,
Josh: It’s a signature for sure. And I found it on tour after tour and I was, I used to wear like a towel.. on my pocket. Every time I go on stage, because you know, when you go on carver, doesn’t really give you the freedom to be like, this is where whatever you think is fly. So Jamaica was like, you scanned kento. They had really a box of shades. Yeah, Like 30 pair of shades. And that box every night, they changed different shades. What they want to wear with that outfit. So she was like, Josh, if you want to wear a towel, whatever, whatever do your thing. Cause she told him about Swoop back in the day and he used to wear his gloves. You know what I mean? So like, it’s like, what is your sauce? When you step out to make you feel like that’s going to be the best you when you’re on stage. So I had a towel and then eventually I see Tone and Tone used to wear, his, his, uh, his hat regular though, you know, regular stuff. And he’d have his towel tied up tights on. Cause he came from the ballet. Right. He was very like protecting his body. I got to stay warm. So I was like, what’s my little niche. I like, and I don’t want to be a gimmick. But I just want my own little sauce, you know what I’m saying? It belong to me. So one day I had my beanie up in the house now I rolled it and I kept rolling it. And I wrote up high, like a little sailors hat. I was like, I’m not mad at it. So I did it a couple of people, a couple of years, people was like, why you got your hat like that? I’m like, Hmm. It didn’t eventually everyone caught on. And now it’s weird. I didn’t start it. But I see people now like there’s hats that made like this now, like, and people ask me, where do you get your hat from? I said, to be your supply store, a gas station really.. I just rolled it up certain way. And then rock it. So it’s been stuck ever since.
Dana: I love it. I love it. I think there’s something so unique about dancers and getting to feel this like very this like in your body difference, depending on what you’re wearing.
Josh: Oh, that’s a big thing. I mean, it’s a big thing right there. You can be in rehearsal for three months and then you go on stage. He was like, this is what I’m wearing. I lost all the feelings.
Dana: 20/20 Experience is a perfect example. I love a loose pant. I mean, borderline put me in a burlap sack. We’re good. I just space and air. And then all of a sudden I’m in a high waist, high crotch it, all of it. And it really, it changes. It changes things, um, in the way you feel. But it also changes the visual, like your center of gravity is now high, different shapes. Look good up here. Then the shapes that look it down here. So it’s a part of it and it flatters the outline, the silhouette. I love it. It’s great. Okay. So we’re back though. The tough, the more, not tougher question, because ask answering questions about your signature and your style is not easy and finding your signature and your style is not easy. I don’t mean to downplay that at all, but um, I’m wondering when people dig deep on you, what is it that you want them to find? What is it that they find now? And is that what you want them?
Josh: I want them to find that honestly, first off I’m a genuine person. You know, that’s what, that’s just what I tell. When I talk to people, when I dance, I’m very vulnerable and I want you to see that I’m a genuine person. And I see that. I take my craft very seriously. And to know that my whole goal is to inspire. My dad taught me back in the day. He always taught me this. I had a story and I won’t go too long in it, but pretty much saying your gift is not for you. You’re gifted for people. God gave you the gift to make people smile and make people happy. So no matter what, whenever you do in your career, if you keep that in mind, you can never lose. So that’s what I’ve tried to give up on my Instagram and my dancing. And when I talk to people, I give so much energy people. How can you give so much energy all the time? You always, so I say, because it’s not for me, you know what I mean? It’s for, it’s for the people who can’t do it for the people who want to do it for the people, even when I was in that stage in my life. And I wish I could be there. Cause you know, you tend to get to a place and you’re like, dang, I still need to get to this place. But it’s like, did you remember when you wanted to be in this place right now? So, you know, I kind of always go back to that and tell people, look at me in genuine light and know that I love what I do.
Dana: Ugh, thank you for sharing that story. That’s so important. And I’m glad that we had time. I think we have time for one more. Um, in, in my research, um, I discovered that you have a favorite quote. I am a masterpiece that is trying to master peace. Yes. Would you be so kind as to share with us anything you’ve learned in your quest for mastering peace?
Josh: Yes. I got it tatted on me, man.
Dana: Let’s hear it. Let’s see it.
Josh: Yeah. So it’s back here, you know, you really can’t see, I know you can’t see it too much, but I got that quote, my masterpiece, trying to masterpiece because you know, within our own right, we are artists. No, I am an artist. I am sensitive about my art and I love what I do, man. And like, I’m a massive piece that we all are in ourselves and God has given us the right to feel that, you know, no one can take that away from you. And like that goes to parenting. I had great parents who made me feel that love that no one else can take that from me and trying to match the peace because I am an Aries and I’m a fire sign and I can get, I am very passionate so I can get to a very high level of aggression, you know, because out of my passion, but knowing that I want to master peace, I want to be able to be levelheaded and, and, and think clearly and move with purpose. You know what I’m saying? Move with purpose, move with a divine plan, move knowing sometimes I’m not going to have the answer. That’s why I’m a masterpiece trying to masterpiece
Dana: Trying emphasis. And that’s a constant, right? Because the moment you’ve achieved it, something is gonna happen.
Josh: And that’s why I kind of remind myself, like I’m trying to masterpiece, you know what I mean? That’s the thing. That’s the biggest thing for me, because I don’t want to handle relationships or friends or, you know, business offer like, you know, anger or upset. Because back in the day I used to just get upset and I just cut people off. I don’t want to talk. I’m cool. Like, cause I’m not a loner, but I’m, I’m comfortable. So comfort with myself for being alone. I’m comfortable being alone. I went through enough in my life that I’m like, I respectfully bow out. We don’t have to be friends. We don’t have to be here. We don’t have to do work. I’m okay. I’ll make it. I’ll find a way to make it. So I don’t want to have to leach or you have to leach you off of me. We can stop it. Now. Now I’m saying, but now mastering the peace that knowing that relationships are good and talking through things is the best way to do it because communication is key
Dana: With, with a person. But also the self was so like, if you, it sounds like you were a person who’s okay with being with yourself. And if you can master like peace within, you’re more prepared to achieve it, receive it out there in the world from other relationships. Yes. That’s awesome. I think it’s the, I think it, it should be, could be everyone’s right?
Josh: Yes, man. Like, you know, I think everyone, we, if we move non selfishly, like, and just know that everyone can be great within your own, right. Doesn’t have to oversize and overstep. You don’t have to move that way. You know what I’m saying? And I know sometimes within not feel the industry, the, it can get very tricky, right. But everyone can move a certain way to get to a certain place, you know? And that’s why you got a room at the top. There’s always room.
Dana: We have to like change this, this imagery of it being a mountain with a peak and a flag. That’s one person’s flag to being like, Ooh, what if it was just an, also a mountain, but upside down,
Josh: Upside down,
Dana: Ascending is going to be way harder. Cause you’re in an inversion. But I, yeah, I think that that’s possible. There’s the saying I’m going to botch it. I’m not going to get it right. Um, but one, one matches flame does not take away the light from another, like this match being over here and bright and lit doesn’t mean that this one is going to be dim, light it up, let there be light illuminate. I think that’s another one that my husband has gifted me. Light is the best disinfectant. And I think that in this time we’re shedding light on a lot of things and
Josh: Which, which needs to happen. And these are steps they need to happen. Black lives does matter, you know? And like, I’m just going to put this out there. You know? No one wants to say that no other lives matter. We say that because like you said, you might not know the generational, like depression that we had over the years that I’ve experienced because I am from the South. So, you know, I’ve like no cultural and police brutality and all that stuff. Since I was like 13, you know what I mean? As a black man in the world. So no I had the police talk and even me now talking to my friends, knowing that they didn’t have the same talk that I would have grown up. So
Dana: The conversations is training and experience
Josh: The same experience. So just to say that we all have love for each other. We just want to come at peace with everybody in the world and live our life exactly how everyone knows can live that life.
Dana: Yes. Josh, thank you so much. I have nothing left to say, except for, thank you. Thank you for being here and being open, um, for somebody that I’ve honestly not before today, shared word in person words, right? I feel like we could do this for a very long time and I hope that we get to, I would love to spend more time with you and Lindsey. I’m such a fan of your moves. They’re so nice. And it’s really nice to get to know what’s what’s beneath them as well.
Josh: Well, it’s the kinjaz
Dana: Yeah. We’re going to throw it to the Kinjaz. There’s a cipher. Josh and I are going to go. You guys should go. I think it’s a very exciting time to have dance and have community and you can feel connected even at six feet distance. You can feel connected even on the other side of your computer screen. Um, and I’m excited actually now to be digging deeper because you mentioned people not knowing, not having known you before. And I love a deep dive. So where could I go to find more of you Josh
Josh: Thats the bad thing, I’m horrible at social media. I’m just now I’m about to get my YouTube started out.
Oh, okay. But we’ll be on the lookout
Josh: And we don’t look out my damn, uh, my Instagram Dasher underscore boys Smith. That’s pretty much on Twitter and everything else. Uh, watch out for any upcoming projects. I do have old clips that you could probably look at on YouTube, but ask me, y’all gotta go dig on that.
Dana: You’re going to dig on that. You know, I’m going to dig on that. Yeah.
Josh: Hey Dana, I appreciate you, man. Thank you so much.
Dana: She’s lovely talking to you and thank you CLI thank you everybody watching and listening. I had a ball. Let’s go cipher. Let’s do it. I wore the wrong shoes for sure. Definitely going to have a blister. If there’s a lot of dancing, I should have made my signature thing. Socks, really comfortable socks. That’s my signature. Move that way. I’ll always have them. Okay. Enough enough on me. Thank you so much, Josh. We’ll talk to you later!
Dana: All right. All right. I hope you got as much out of that conversation as I did. I absolutely loved hearing Josh talk about the relationship between being an athlete and being a dancer. I thought it was fascinating to hear him talk about his relationship to the public perception of him, his work and social media. I also loved hearing from Josh about the importance of activism in his life and using his voice and in supporting his community. To me, this is a hugely important part of our work as artists, as makers, and especially as teachers. So cheers to you, Josh, thank you so much for being such a great example for all of us and thank you all for listening. Enjoy the rest of your day afternoon, night, whatever it is. And of course keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon.
Thought you were done? No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a weight change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more. All right, everybody now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hello. Hello and hello. I am Dana and I am jazzed that you are here today. I’m stoked on this episode because it is dense. It carries a lot of value in a little bit of time. So whether you are an assistant or a person who has an assistant or a person who is looking to have an assistant, I think you will get a lot out of this episode, by the way. I think we all could use an assistant at some point.
So this episode truly is for everyone. So much value so much goodness, but first let’s talk wins. This week, coincidentally, I am claiming a win. That is a video project I created in collaboration with my podcast assistant Malia Baker. She choreographed it, I directed and edited it. And it is a video homage to Louie Prima and Keely Smith called “Smiling.” It was influenced by the golden age of movie musicals and our cast and crew was golden to truly such an awesome time capsule of a project. I loved every part of making this video and, um, man, we, we shot it just days before the lockdown was enforced and I’m so proud to be sharing it with the world right now. I think it carries a very important message and a handful of very fun surprises as well. So check that out. It lives on my Instagram @DanaDaners and also on Malia’s personal page. She is @MaliaBaker. Get into it. Do your face a favor, give a smile. Okay. Now speaking of your face and your smile, what is your win this week? What’s going well in your world.
Okay. Awesome. And congrats. Keep crushing it. If you are listening the podcast chronologically, you have just emerged from four back to back episodes about auditioning. This episode is coming at a very timely time because I want to acknowledge that auditioning for work is not the only way to get work. In fact, possibly the most fruitful way that I introduced myself to the industry was as an assistant, an assistant choreographer to be specific. Now I opened this episode by talking about my win with my assistant Malia Baker. That was unintentional, but coincidentally, very, very appropriate to this episode. Now there is a hot button conversation happening in the dance world right now. That’s probably happened in other industries forever. Um, sort of as language changes and our professional landscape changes. This conversation will continue to happen. Probably forevermore. The subject, broadly is the roles and responsibilities of assistants. Is the assistant the person that gets the coffee is the assistant. The person that remembers the steps or teaches the steps or cleans the steps or contributes steps? Question Mark. When is an assistant, not an assistant, what makes a great assistant we’re digging in to all of it. So buckle up.
Alright. So I have been an assistant and I occasionally still assist for about 15 years, world tours, movies, commercials, music, videos, award shows you name it I’ve assisted on it. I’ve also danced and assisted on the same project, which can be really, really challenging. I’ll explain why, as you’re about to find out the role of an assistant is very, very broad. And the role of a performer is very, very specific. Sometimes it can be challenging to have the bird’s eye view and the worm’s eye view at the same time. All right, let’s talk first about what an assistant does. Well, as I mentioned, it’s always a little bit different, not just from project to project, but from boss to boss, from person to person. So let’s consider what assistants might do. They might, depending on the project or the person, edit video, edit music, go pick up coffee, go pick up lunch, take lunch orders, book studio space, manage and coordinate schedules. That’s a start, but they always, they always facilitate a vision. They facilitate the creative vision of their boss or of the project that they’re assisting on.
Now let’s talk about the different types of assistance. A personal assistant, for example, might organize travel, like actually book the flights, the cars, the hotel reservations, they might run personal errands or organize a personal schedule. I have known personal assistants to actually buy the Christmas gifts and birthday gifts for their bosses, families and friends. Um, I’ve even known of a boss who trusted their assistant to decide on their future home. Yes. Like the house they will live in the assistant went and saw it and said, yes. Very wide range of responsibilities there for a personal assistant. And of course it depends on the person. Let’s talk now about a choreography assistant, a choreographic assistant or a choreography assistant or a choreographer’s assistant might be a moving body in the room during the creation process and during the rehearsal process. Occasionally they’re responsible for retaining the counts in the choreography, teaching choreography, cleaning choreography, even giving feedback on the choreography itself, If asked. I have also used and served as a technical assistant, this is a person that might film, edit and upload tutorial, videos, rehearsal videos, so on and so forth. Those are just a few examples of titles and responsibilities of assistants. I could really go on for probably a day about the things that assistants do. So why don’t we actually shift our focus to this question? When is an assistant not an assistant. First of all, I want to state that I see assistants as collaborators and possibly the most important part of the team. My assistants know my every move. They know my schedule, they know my values, they know my vision, they know how I like to work. And it is their job to work, to facilitate my vision. In the choreography space on a choreography team, by my definition, an assistant is responsible for facilitating a creative vision. That may mean tactical tasks, physical things like setting up the studio, organizing the schedule, organizing video footage, tutorials, et cetera. It might even mean systematic work, streamlining a process, making sure that things go smoothly with that being said to me, the moment an assistant crosses into another realm of collaborator is when they’re asked or expected to contribute their own creative vision for the work. I know many choreographers are totally okay with feedback when it comes to their choreography or process, but this is not the same as bringing a creative idea to the table. I’ll give an example. I know that many choreographers are okay, and even encourage getting feedback from their assistants. Feedback, for example, on things like weight transfers, transitions, or even presenting a step like, Ooh, it might feel better to ball change right left instead of left, right, Because my weight is already on the left side or, Ooh, I love that step. It reminds me of this. Or to get into that turn, it might be better if I start from this position instead of that one, that way I can move quicker and give you what you want, which is covering a lot of distance in a little bit of time. To me, that’s very acceptable and expected feedback from an assistant. And to me, that is absolutely not the same as bringing a creative idea to the table. To me, when a person is asked or expected to bring their own idea or vision, they are an associate or possibly even a co choreographer, not an assistant. An example of bringing a creative idea to the table might look something like this. Is there a world where instead of our hero woman being in love with peanut butter, she is actually in love with a frog that turns into a can of peanut butter. Example of creative vision, opposed to facilitating the creative vision and wow frogs and peanut butter, Welcome to my mind. Welcome to my very creative mind.
All right, now let’s talk about what makes a great assistant. I’ll give you a hint. What makes a great assistant is also what makes a great relationship. That’s really what we’re talking about here today. The relationship between boss and assistant. In my book, these are four qualities of a great assistant. Number one ESP, mind reading capabilities. In the event that you do not possess mind reading capabilities, which none of us do. Um, here is a great way to read somebody’s mind, ask them what they think and write it down. Great way to read somebody’s mind is to actually put it on paper, get a clear idea of expectations. And then you are so much better set up for success.
Another quality of a great assistant to me is somebody that has a good memory and mindset for not only managing information, but mining it. This is a person who knows how to ask the right questions. This is a person that knows where to look for information and how to get it and how to organize it. Another quality of a fabulous assistant. It sounds weird to say this, but customer service. The assistant establishes the flow of the project, the flow of information. And oftentimes when people think back about how the project went, it will be the work of the assistant that they remember, that they walk away with, that they think of as being either remarkably positive or not so much. Oh, here’s my favorite. My favorite quality of a great assistant is somebody that over delivers, under time. I love looking for the habit of somebody who over-delivers, because that’s a quality that I seek in my own career. And I like to think of my assistants as an extension of myself. If I do, they do too.
Moving right along, let’s talk about how to be a great assistant. There are notions that an assistant is akin to a servant role or a secretary role. If you are an assistant, what if, instead of believing those stories, you chose to believe the following. What if you chose to own your work and not do their work? What if you owned the value that you bring? What if you facilitate the zones for genius? What if you make the space and maintain the space for brilliance? What if that is your job? Instead of doing the jobs left undone by others, you make the space, you maintain the space, you make the zones for genius. What if instead of getting walked on, you wanted to grow. What if you wanted to be the best at what you do, not the second best to your boss, but the best you, this is abundance mentality. This is ownership, and this is very attractive.
Now I could not talk about how to be a great assistant without asking you to pay attention to the details, study, to learn the likes and dislikes of the person that you’re working for. And I don’t just mean what things do they like and dislike out there in the world, but what qualities do they like and dislike about themselves? Where can you supplement and help enhance the person that they already are with the person that you already are? For example, do they like knowing people’s names, but are terrible at remembering them? Do they have a preference for the way that tables and chairs are set up? Do they have a vibe that you can contribute to? Do they love the snacks that you brought? do they have any food allergies? Do they prefer their music loud or quiet? Do they like hearing your opinion? Do they work well with tech or do they get easily frustrated with tech? Are they an iPhone or an Android person? Do they prefer large or small groups of dancers? What are the tough parts and flow states of their process? In general, if they mentioned liking or disliking a thing, make sure that you note it, but don’t wait for them to say it. Most of this stuff can be very easily perceived if you are perceptive.
Alright. I think it’s really, really important as an assistant that you manage your mind. It’s important to remember that, although yes, you may be working for someone else. You are also a leader. People are looking to you as number two, to establish the tone. They’re looking to you for cues about what is trickling down. So be responsible for the way that you lead as well as the way that you follow. Lastly, I kind of touched on this before, but represent your boss. Try to show up always as the best version, not only of yourself, but of them as well. This preserves your relationship with them, as well as the relationship you have with yourself, show up as the best version of you.
Alright, now this might be sort of an unexpected spin on this episode, but I do want to talk about how to have assistants from the perspective of somebody who’s been one for 15 years, and now has a few of my very own. First don’t expect anyone to read your mind. You’re welcome assistants. For those people that seek to have the help of others. It is extremely beneficial to know what you want. It’s even more beneficial. If you write it down, say what it is that you want ask for exactly what you want. Now, to me, the first phase of a boss assistant relationship is establishing trust. I usually do this through a series of simple tactical assignments that an assistant can follow through on these are measurable they’re visible sometimes they’re actually physical. Make this order, pick it up, set up these chairs in this certain way, post this specific post at this specific time.
It’s very simple to see if these markers have been met. As the trust is established, as those markers are met, then the relationship between assistant and boss turns into one, that’s less about simply doing things and more about ways of doing things. Now you can delegate the process of getting things done, not just ask people to get things done for you. This is where real true collaboration comes into play. This is where you build systems together based on what works and what doesn’t work. Creating a process together and tweaking it together. Keeping a tight feedback loop is a step in the agent boss relationship that sometimes is expected to fall only on the assistance lap, but I see this as being truly a collaboration and when done well, this is a make or break step that can truly multiply your results your output exponentially. And here is why when you delegate a task to somebody, especially somebody who wants to do the task well, it’s usually met with a hundred questions at that point, you might be telling yourself, by this point, I might as well have just done it myself. Well it’s possible, but it really, really pays to invest in these systems and in finding ways to answer these questions early on so that you don’t have to later. Here is the critical step. I asked my assistants to come back to me, not only with their questions, but with what they think I would answer to those questions that helps me not only get to know them and the way they think, but it helps me get to know the way they think I think, and somewhere within that, I might even be presented with an idea that’s better than my own ideas. I love this step. Here’s an example. If I ask somebody to book a rehearsal space for me, I tell them the dimensions of the studio that I need. I tell them the hours that I need the studio and the preferred location, but perhaps they come back to me wondering what my budget is, instead of just saying, what is your budget? They might say, I think you’d prefer this budget, but these are the price ranges available. I love this answer because it shows me that my assistant has an idea of what they think my values are. They think that I value money in a certain way. Now, perhaps they’re wrong. Perhaps I value being very, very frugal when I rent rehearsal space, but it’s possible that I don’t consider money at all. I will pay any dollar amount as long as the dimensions are correct. There is adequate parking for example, um, and it’s within five miles of my house. Like maybe those are my values, but by responding to me with the answer that they think is best, then I’m informed of, of perhaps a blind spot that my assistants and I have in our understanding of each other and our values. This is essential. This step, I really, really strongly recommend this. I really also recommend that you treat your assistant as the most important part of your team. Take care of them, take care of them financially and otherwise. This is the person closest to you and your work. It’s essential that you hold them closely with care.
Alright, now, speaking of care and holding things closely, I have decided to much debate that I would like to share with you. Some of my assistant fails. Yep. I’m telling you all about the times that I have fallen so that you don’t have to fall down to. My first story is when I was assisting the one, the only, Toni Basil, who is still a dear friend and mentor of mine and a dance legend. I might add if you’re not familiar with Toni Basil strongly encourage, you hit pause on this episode, go do a little research. And then come on back. I was assisting Toni on an award show. I believe it was the Soul Train Awards. And I believe the year was like 1600 BC. It was a really long time ago. And I remember the director of the award show asked Toni a question. Toni paused and seemed like she was struggling to find the answer. So I answered for her because the answer to this particular question was right on the tip of my tongue. I did not exercise any restraint. I jumped in with all of my enthusiasm and willingness to answer and speak for my boss. Holy smokes. She was standing right there. A fully capable, fully responsible fully.. Did I say capable? Yeah. Toni Basil is one of the most capable human beings. I know she knows this industry and several industries I might add inside and out. She is, as I mentioned a legend and I thought it would be a good idea to speak for her. When for two seconds, she took pause to consider her answer. Oh yes, this was a fumble. And I knew it immediately. When Toni Basil’s daggers in her eyes shot back at me and almost physically zipped my mouth for me. I remember I wanted to just crawl into myself and die and never speak again. Instead I apologized and I’ve learned pretty well. Although my instinct to talk quickly has helped me in the past. It’s also hurt me time and time again. Take pause, consider, and always let number one, speak first. A piggyback lesson on that is that it’s also good practice to let number one, have the last word too. All right. Assistant fail number two. Oh, this one is cringy. I was assisting Marty Kudelka on a project for Justin Timberlake. We’re hiring dancers. I remember a table full of headshots. Some of them, my friends, none of them were me. Um, we’re discussing the people that would be the right fit and it fell on my lap to hire the dancers for the job. That means call the agents, make the official booking and make sure that the dancers have all the information they need to start work on the start date. Well, start date rolls around. We begin rehearsal and Marty looks at me and he says, we’re missing a girl. I look at my notes. I look at my outgoing email. I’m like, Nope, this is everybody. And then Marty said to me, yeah, but where is dancer X? My gut sank and hit the floor was I really that sloppy that out of like eight dancers. It wasn’t even like 56 dancers. It was like eight dancers. Out of eight I missed one. Oh my gosh. That’s definitely failing status right there. That is an assistant fail. Marty was extremely gracious. And let that one slide. I absolutely have not lived it down, but for that project, we made seven out of eight work.
Holy smokes. Do I still feel awful about that? So awful about that. Compassion, Dana, compassion. It’s okay to mess up. Okay. This one’s subtle, but I think it’s very important while I was working with Christopher Scott on, In the Heights, he pointed out to me one day that my feedback even nonverbal is very, very visible. I’m the guy that likes to report the news. I speak quickly. I speak my every thought, usually, podcasts, very appropriate place for me to land. But even in the room, the thing that I learned from Chris is that yes, especially in an associate role, my opinion is valued, but Dana, come on. It does not need to be given 100% of the time. I remember Chris making a joke about the bill of my hat, being my tell, that he could see it from across the studio, either nodding vigorously up and down or holding very, very still. The nodding bill of the hat obviously would suggest that I am in favor of this idea, this take, this pass. The stillness means I’m not buying it. Now. Here’s the important thing there oftentimes as an associate, as an assistant or as anyone other than the director, your opinion is not the most important thing happening in the room. I am constantly learning the value of being neutral, the value of allowing people, the space visually and audibly and otherwise to have their own opinions. Before I attempt to change the temperature of the room with mine. Exercise, it is my exercise, neutrality. Look out neutrality. Here I come. Wow. What a goal? Huh?
All right, everybody. I hope that this information is useful to you. Whether you are an assistant or someone who has an assistant or someone who is looking to have an assistant. And because there are so many different ways of working together because I’m an assistant and I have one, I would really love to hear your feedback on this episode. So head over to Words that move me Podcast on IG to leave a comment on this episode, and don’t forget to subscribe and download these episodes If you’re loving and finding value here, please share it. Let me know that you’re digging the goods and please don’t forget more than anything to keep it funky. I appreciate you go have a funky rest of your day. I’ll talk to you very soon.
Thought you were done, No, I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website though. theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have moved over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more. All right, everybody now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.
Intro: This is words that move me. The podcast were movers and shakers. Like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hello. Hello everybody. And welcome back to words that move me. I am Dana and Oh, how about also welcome if you’ve never been here. Welcome. Welcome. I am so jazzed to have you listening today. Um, I hope this podcast finds you well. I hope it finds you happy and healthy and if happy, fails, I hope it finds you human and healthy and you know what? I’m here for all life. Actually, if you’re not even feeling human today, if you are feeling more like plant matter or a geode, I will accept all of it. Welcome. Welcome as you are. I am as always thrilled about this episode, because it is a little bit different from your average. Um, in general, I like to think that they are all different than your average podcast, but this words that move me up episode is truly, truly different. Um, simply in format. Today is our fourth and final installation of Audition August half of this episode is going to be dedicated to questions and answers. Those questions were submitted by my personal clients. And from you listeners via Instagram questions about auditions specifically, the other half of the episode is going to be super special, firsthand audition stories from a handful of super special and very talented guests, that also happened to be friends. Ava Bernstein Mitchell, AKA Ava Flav, Kim Gingras, Hannah Douglas and Dexter Carr. I mean, wow, this is quite an episode and I want to get into it, but you know how we do here. We begin with wins.
Oh guys, I’m celebrating a special win. I am celebrating that words that move me. Podcasts has found itself in Apple’s top 100 performing arts podcasts yet again this week, actually last week. But this week, by the time you’re hearing this, I guess at spot number 83, now I am not privy to the witchcraft and wizardry that determines the ranking of podcasts on Apple. But I am certain that I could not, would not have achieved that very coveted 83rd slot without all of you. So thank you so much. I’m so glad that you’re here. I’m glad to have you, and to those of you that have been giving feedback via social media and on the website. I’m so grateful for that always and now, regardless of what Apple thinks of my podcasts, I’m getting some awesome feedback and some critical feedback too. I appreciate all of it. Thank you so much. All right. If you are digging the podcast, I should say some good next steps for you might be to share it with a friend, leave a review or a rating, and of course, download it and make sure that you’re able to have it with you whenever you find yourself in podcast, ready time, be it with or without your wifi. Okay. Now the important part, what is your win this week? What’s going well in your world.
Congratulations. Happy, win to you. Please keep winning.
All right. Let’s dig in to these Q’s and A’s, I got some really, really good questions from you guys about auditions, so thoughtful, um, so thought provoking and I’m actually really, really excited to begin. Let us begin. Oh, by the way, I should say that these questions were submitted via Google forms. So I’m not actually sure who asked them there were submitted anonymously and I will answer them anonymously right from my mouth. Here’s where I’d like to begin, listener asks
“What would you say to someone who was training in dance took a few years off to focus on an alternative career, but has started retraining during quarantine and would love nothing more than to dive back into the audition slash dance world.”
Alright to you dancer in her early thirties, I would say go for it. I would also say listen to last week’s episode where I talk to Meisha Goetz and Tim O’Brien from Clear Talent Group. They talk a lot about the lay of the land that we’re looking at now heading into, um, the post COVID work era and our industry is slowly starting to turn on kind of like a dimmer switch, less like a regular on off switch work is extremely slow right now, which means it is extremely competitive. It might be a tough time to catch your footing, but it will be a fruitful time eventually. Um, and from my personal point of view, most of the audition breakdowns that I’ve been getting, especially lately are looking for real people. The majority of the work that’s happening right now is not, you know, in person award shows, it’s not tours. Some of it is music videos, but most of this type of dancing is, um, TV, episodic, film, and commercial. Those are looking for usually real people, not backup dancer types. So for you, I would really encourage, um, to get in there, get your materials in order, headshots, photos and really good video links. Um, if you have a relationship with an agent already awesome, if not keep your eye out on the casting networks to be self submitting. This is the time for video submissions. It is a great day to be self submitting today and every day.
All right, next up, “I have heard a lot of stories about people sneaking into auditions, just out of curiosity, not like I would ever try it or anything.”
This person’s cheeky. “How are some people just able to sneak into private auditions and what would happen if they got all the way to the end, asking for a friend angel emoji.” I love this question. I love it so much. And I am going to leave it to my dear friend, Ava Bernstein Mitchell, to answer this question with her special story coming at ya in just a few moving right along. Ooh, we have a poll “technique versus style. Which one is more important to you at an audition? Of course it depends on the project, but for you personally, meaning me Dana director, choreographer, or person behind the table, which one do I side with? Or which one do you side with?” This is a great question. In fact, I Dana the person on the other side of the microphone am going to be bringing you an episode entirely dedicated to this conversation technique versus style in a knockdown drag out battle who would win? Well, dear writer, dear listener. I think you’re already onto the answer to this question, which is it’s different for every project. I know certain choreographers prioritize and champion style. I know certain others that prioritize and champion cleanliness, um, this, this ability to replicate, duplicate and do exactly as I say and exactly as I do. I personally, Dana am a fan of personal you and your style. I really love to see individuality. It’s something I champion with my work and it’s something I really look for in my team. So that is my answer. Bring on your style. All right.
Ooh, here’s another good one. “How important are looks AKA hair, makeup, clothes, et cetera. When you are at an audition?” I will answer again for myself, not nearly as important as your, your talent is numero UNO, but oftentimes especially because there are many, many humans and usually not a lot of time, your hair, your makeup or your clothing can become a quick and easy identifier a way for us to remember you. So although your talent is the most important thing you can bring to an audition, your hair, your makeup and your wardrobe are really, really easy way to become memorable. Hair, makeup wardrobe. Yes, important, but only fractionally compared to how important your talent is.
Okay. Ah, this is great. “If an audition asks for all black attire, what would you wear to stand out?” Oh dear writer slash listener. Please do go listen to episode 32, where I talk at length about exactly this. Okay. Next step. Next step. “How much research should you do on a project before an audition?” Oh my gosh. This is the fun part for me. I love research. I love digging. I love learning. I love trial and error. This is just a process that I so get into my recommendation is as much as possible before you audition for a project, you should. Absolutely. If, if nothing else have researched the choreographer, if there is one attached or the project itself, um, this is something that I could spend hours doing. But if you are limited, I’d say you get the tip of the iceberg in 15 to 20 minutes, but this is like bare, bare minimum. The more you can dig in, the more prepared you will be. Even if nothing else, you might simply enter the room differently, feeling prepared, thinking that you had done your homework. There is really nothing like the feeling of walking into the room, knowing that you didn’t do your homework. I am all for anything you can do to avoid that feeling. Okay moving on. “Are agencies, signing new talent via online submissions?” Yes, yes, absolutely. Yes. Off the top of my head. I know that at least Go2Talent agency is signing new talent. Okay. Next up. Ooh, this one’s a doozy. It’s a, it’s a bundle.
Okay. Listener asks “In response to the Instagram posts going around saying that Instagram is your new real slash resume. Has Instagram really become the dancers new reel?” Okay. I’m going to give you guys a little bit of context. I pulled up the, um, posts that has been circulating around Instagram. I’m going to read it to you now. It says this “To all of my dancers. Please, please show your versatility on your IgE page because when you’re sleeping, having your coffee… I am quietly trying to submit you for a gig. Yes. I’m sharing your profile privately. And when I have to literally search your page and scroll all the way down to show the client, some sort of versatility, it makes it hard to push for you. Please spread the selfies in between and add some content that will get you booked.” All right. So that’s the post that this writer is referring to. Now let’s listen to that question. One more time. Has Instagram become the new dancers reel? So that I would say yes and no. I don’t think anything will ever replace a good, reel, reels show many, many different projects, preferably your best work with one click with one view, no time scrolling in between, but in some ways Instagram can do one better because where a reel stops, right, Where it ends. Instagram does keep going. You can have an endless feed. I mean, maybe not actually endless, but close to it. You decide the same listener asks. Do you need to have separate IG accounts for personal versus professional to that? I would say no, probably not. I would actually say you don’t even need an Instagram account. I can say that because I know plenty of dancers that are plenty working that don’t have an IG account. Is it helpful to have one? Yes. Is it more common to have one probably. But do you need? No. I would definitely recommend anybody with questions about the use of social media. Go back and listen to episode 10. It’s called your social media storefront and a really, really dig in to my relationship and several different types of relationships you can have with social media.
Okay. Here’s another good one. “If you’re new and don’t have high quality content, is that still good enough to post or should you wait until you have the good content?” If social media is the new audition, then it doesn’t serve you much good to wait until you have good content so that you can get booked so that you can have good content. It’s this which came first, the chicken or the egg conversation. To this listener I would say it is not out of your reach to create good looking content. If you have a phone in your pocket and something to prop it up against, you have the sunlight, you have your body, you have your talent, get your talent out there. Just hit record and share. B minus work is still above average. It’s a great place to start.
Alright. One more question on this subject in this post “They say to show versatility on your page. What does that mean?” I really love this question and I’m going to answer it like this. If you’re a person that wants to be doing work, like what you see on TV, then post yourself dancing styles, similar to what you see on TV, put out into the world, the work that you want to be doing to that I would also like to add. It’s not always about being versatile. Sometimes it kills to be a specialist. If that’s you, if you specialize at one thing, show me that one thing. Show me you are the greatest at that one thing, if you’re a person that desires doing a lot of different types of work, then yeah. Show that you’re able to do different types of work. And that doesn’t just mean dance. Go take a look at the special skills section on your resume. If you don’t have a special skills section on your resume start considering what sets you aside, bring that, bring those special skills, bring those talents, bring those interests to your social media as well, because it isn’t just about how well you dance. It is about who you are. People want to work with people who do good work and people really, really want to work with good people. All right. I hope those Qs and As Aid, some of your Qs, and I hope that you are ready with a pen and paper because you have a lot to learn from these special stories coming up. On your mark, get set, grow. Oh yeah. I said, grow.
Kim Gingras: Bonjur! My name is Kim Gingras And I like to share this one audition. I will never forget. So we’re in 2011 and it had only been a few months since my move to Los Angeles. When a friend told me about this upcoming audition for Nicole Scherzinger from the pussycat dolls, which was very exciting because I knew their music well, I loved her style. I love the whole empowerment female in heels, a type of dancing. But I was a little worried because I never received a memo from my agency. So since communication is key, I reached out to my agent to clarify what the audition was about, why I hadn’t gotten the memo, if I could possibly go. And they nicely explained that it didn’t fit the specs that they were looking for. So an audition always comes with an audition breakdown and I didn’t fit the characteristics. Fair. That’s totally fair, but I wasn’t ready to walk away from that opportunity. I just knew it. I felt that in my gut, this was something I needed to show up to. So I found out who the choreographer was for the job, which was the amazing Jaquel Knight. And I had a connection with him through years back in 2008, when we were both in the cast of the Monsters of Hip Hop showcase. And I decided to reach out to him and he is so sweet and so kind and openly welcomed me to the audition. He’s like, yeah, just show up at this time. No problem. I got you. And he sure did. So I showed up over there and I mean, it was such an amazing experience. This audition lasted hours. It was dancing after dancing and so much sweating and people were getting cut. We had to stay longer. And Nicole showed up at some point. Then we all had to dance by ourselves, the entire song for her to watch. I mean, it just went on and on. I feel like we ended around like midnight or something. It was just so exciting. And I booked the job and not only did I book this right there, music video, but it turned into my first appearance on the Ellen DeGeneres show, American Idol. So you think you can dance, my first European tour and then nine more years of friendship and opportunities when Nick and the team, like what, I mean, she’s just the gift that keeps on giving. We’ve gone to Vietnam, Malaysia, Turkey, Thailand, Indonesia, together. And I’ve gotten, you know, amazing lifetime friendships through her and the team. So the moral of the story here is you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Of course I had to quote Wayne Gretzky cause I’m Canadian. But in all seriousness, I know we’ve all felt this fear take over us in specific situations where in reality, we had that little voice inside telling us this is for you. Go for it. So let’s be a little more daring. Let’s listen to that little voice inside. Let’s take chances. We owe it to ourselves.
Dexter Carr:Hey, what’s going on? Y’all my name is Dexter Carr. I am a choreographer dancer in Los Angeles, California, and this is my crazy audition story. So when I had just moved to Los Angeles, I was getting a lot of open calls from my agency. I was getting calls that had like literally 300 people in a room, all trying to audition for like three spots. So I was going because you know, that’s what you’re supposed to do. That’s what you’re supposed to do. You pound the pavement, you hustle, you move, you move, you move. So I went, one audition in particular was for an artist that was very, uh, eclectic and liked a lot of drama and like, you know, things and extra and lace and all the things, all the, all the, all the things. And uh, if you know anything about me that I have that side, but it’s not, it’s not something that I’m really, you know, like that’s not my go to, and especially not at that age, you know, moving here like six, seven years ago.
So I’m walking into this thing, thinking that, like I got to really come up with something. I got to pull something. I got to really like try to, you know, and that’s the energy in the room. Cause I already knew what the energy and the room was about to give. Right? So I come in there with like a little rip tank tops of ripped jeans and some boots and a bandana tied around my head. I’m like, yeah, this is it. This is edgy. This is the edgiest you’re going to get. I walked up to the parking lot, which is where all of the dancers were waiting to go inside. And the first thing I saw, we, God, I’m laughing. Cause I’m, haven’t told the story in so long. The first thing I saw was somebody with, um, wings, wings on like the size of Victoria’s secret angel wings. Like, you know what I mean? Huge wings. And then somebody else had their face painted one color half and then there are other, and like people got like weaves for this that were like down to the floor. And I was like, Oh wait, wait, wait, I missed the memo. I thought I was really doing it. I thought I was really going to be able to, you know, you know, rub elbows with these people. But no, no, no. They have surpassed me and we haven’t even gotten in the room yet. We haven’t even learned one step yet cut to, we all get in the room and you know, the choreographers is letting us know what the job is, how many spots there are and what he’s looking for. And basically what he said is that he wants a star. He wants somebody that comes in here and grabs the attention. Now, mind you, like I said, I’m in all black and some boots. So I don’t, I don’t have a leg up. I don’t have a leg up on the competition with this. When it was time for my group to audition, I was of course, in a group with the person, with the wings. And when I tell y’all they finished the choreography, which you know, choreography happened, boom, I’m set. I’m good. I’m clean. I’m probably not doing a lot. I’m probably not making a lot of choices. It’s probably not doing anything. You know, that’s like, wow, bam. But I’m getting through the choreography right. Time to freestyle. The person with the wings takes the wings, walks to the center of the room as if it is a runway flaps the wings in front pushes them back and struts all the way down to the table and literally stares at the people at the table. Now these wings are so large that it does hit you or move you or give you a gust of wind that if you’re not expected, may topple you over. Which is what happened to me. I literally like was not expecting these wings to come at me. And I looked up and I saw them and I fell over needless to say, no one got kept other than him. So moral of the story is if they say edgy, go, go for the gold go. Like no, no fear go for it. Y’all yeah. Thanks for listening to my crazy audition story.
Hannah Douglass:My name is Hannah Douglas and this is my audition story. So I have plenty of audition stories, but the most memorable for me is the very first audition. I was fresh off of Edge scholarship. I was 18 years old and it was for the Celine Dion world tour, which is so major. It was Nick and RJ. It was everybody who was, anybody was there at the time. And I was nice and green. And I remember loving the choreo thinking. I was killing the choreo in my little scholie corner with my friends and, you know, going over it over and over and over, and then going in a group with a bunch of OGs and then just like fully losing it and completely blanking. I basically stood there. It was a full tragedy and I just freaked out and it was, it was terrible. So I got chopped ASAP, obviously. Left and just couldn’t believe it. And then I remember the next day going into Edge and seeing Bill and bill was so excited, Bill Prudich, he’s the director of edge, the edge scholarship program. And he was like, you know, guru dance guru and cared so much about our journey. So I was, you know, kind of embarrassed to see him. Cause I knew I was terrible, but he was like, how was your first audition? And I just broke down crying. I lost it. I just lost it. And he was like, okay, so you should probably move home because these are your options. You either cry and break down right now because you got told no once or you get it together and you move forward. And I will never forget that moment in my life because the idea of moving home was just not an option for me. I mean, I love my home, but I just, I was so determined to just do better. And Bill saying that reacting that way was, you know, the option was to move home. Just really rocked me to my core. And I had an audition four days later, I think for Seal, for Dancing with the Stars. And I went in hearing Bill’s voice in my head saying, you know, move home or just figure it out basically. And I booked it and it was simply because of that mindset shift, which I’ve carried with me literally the last 14 years of my career. You know, you either choose to be rocked by who you’re surrounded by and you know, the, the caliber of the job in your mind, or you just do what you love to do to the best of your ability. You’re not going to be right for everything, but you can shift your mindset to the point that you offer the best that you have in that moment. And because of Bill’s wording to me that day, I will never forget that feeling of being hold. Like basically you just figure it out, you know, or you, or you leave because that’s the alternative to just break down every time you turn you’ll you’re told no, or just do your best. So, you know, that week of auditions really shaped the rest of my life because I had one of the worst auditions I’ve ever had in my life. And then just four days later, the best auditions I’ve ever had in my life. And it was just because of a mindset shift. So that is what I try to carry with me forever. Still, you know, 14 years later is how mental this game is and that’s what gets you through. And so, yeah, I’m forever grateful to Bill and forever apologetic to Nick and RJ for that tragic audition. Um, but also grateful for the lessons I learned. So that’s my story.
Ava Bernstein Mitchell: What’s up? This is Ava Bernstein Mitchell, and this is my most memorable audition story. I want to take you back to 2006 when I auditioned for Justin Timberlake. So let me preface the story with, at this time in my life, dancing for Justin Timberlake was my dream job. It was on the top of my wishlist. It was, it was it for me. And also I had met Marty at a hip hop intensive workshop. I would say, I don’t exactly know how much before, but it could have been a year. It could have been a few months, but I had met Marty and he said this to me and I’ll never forget after class. He was like, ‘yo, you’re dope. We’re going to work together someday.’ And I’ll never forget it. So I carry that into 2006, when it was all the buzz around town that Justin Timberlake was coming back. He had been gone for four years. So everybody knew this audition was coming up. But the thing about this audition was it was a picture submit only, which means Marty or whoever his team was, were picking pictures of the people who could attend the audition. First round goes around, I’m waiting. People are like, Oh yeah, I got called. Did you get called? You know, you know, everybody talks, I wasn’t called in. So I call my agent. I was like, Hey, was my picture chosen? You know, I really want to be at this audition. She’s like, sorry. No. And I was like, Oh, okay. So I let a few days go by and you know, still everybody’s talking about it, call again. I’m like, Hey, just checking to see if you know, my picture was picked and I really want to be at this audition. She’s like, no, I’m sorry. You know, just, it just wasn’t on the lineup. So again, I waited a little bit longer and then I’m like, I need to be at this audition. So I called my agent and she says again, no, I’m sorry. It’s just, the people have chosen. They’re actually doing a sign in. It’s a whole thing. And I’m really usually a rule follower as what I do. And I respect the construct, uh, that is audition process and whatnot, I just try to be respectful of it. So, but I said to her, I I’m going to go. And she said, well, if you do go, don’t tell them we sent you. And I said, okay. So that was that. So day of the audition comes a crash, the forbidden crash of the audition. And I was glad I did. It was all the hype was all the rage. I just remember there being a line outside then getting in and seeing all the familiar faces, your peers, your friends. We had a great time. I specifically remember though from this audition, cause I do have a bad memory sometimes, but this image is imprinted in my mind is that I remember auditioning and Justin sitting next to Marty and I’m right in front of him and his piercing blue eyes are just looking dead at me. Like I can’t get out and he’s just watching me and I’m thinking like, Oh my gosh, I really just have to, like, I just have to do me. I just have to go off. You know? And sometimes that can be very nerve wracking, but I honestly think, I just felt so deeply that this was my job that I was supposed to be there. That I really just enjoyed this moment. And I kind of remember what I was wearing. I was so basic. I had on some like loose jeans that were like a tie at the ankle, uh, with elastic at the ankle. And I had a gray tee shirt on it. Might’ve been a ACDC gray T-shirt like, I don’t even know. I don’t know. It seemed like a good choice at the time. You know, I wasn’t like sparkly and glitzy and glamorous. It was Justin Timberlake. Let’s be honest. So I think it worked anyways fast forward to, I don’t even know, maybe it was a few weeks later. Maybe it was a few days later. I get the email that I’ve booked this job, which entailed at the, originally it was for a music video. Then it was for, you know, the VMAs then it was for tour. But I think at that time we did know that we were being booked for the tour if I remember correctly. But when I say it was the greatest feeling, but I shared this story because for two reasons specifically why this is a very significant story. is that Un-officially I was the only one from this audition that booked this tour. And I say that meaning anyone else who was involved was either assisting him or part of a previous tour or chosen ahead of time. You know, that is what I mean by that. And I was the only person who one was not invited to, who didn’t have a relationship with Marty at that audition who booked it. And I’m very proud of that. And secondly, sometimes you just got to break the rules. Sometimes the rules are meant to be broken, but you have to use discernment. And you also have to know when that time is because you don’t want to just be out there running them up. But in this particular situation, I knew that was job. My spirit told me I just had to go for it and I’d have no other way. So cheers to being a rule breaker and cheers to going after your dreams.
Dana: All right, everybody, I hope you enjoyed those stories. I hope you learned a lot from this episode and I hope that you head into this new and slightly different audition season, audition life feeling informed and inspired. Thank you so much for listening as always keep it funky. I’ll talk to you later.
Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, we have a way to become a words that move me. So kickball, changeover to patreon.com/wtmmpodcast to learn more and all right, everybody now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hello, Hello, Hello and welcome. This is words that move me. I’m Dana and I am as always jazzed about this episode. This is week three of audition August and I have not one, not two. Oh no, yes. Two. I have not one but two incredible guests that are going to offer some tremendously valuable insights on, um, the dance market and what that means for auditions. And auditioners. Um, I do want to jump right into that, but first wins.
If you are new to the show, we start every episode off with wins. I tell you mine and get yours ready because you are up next. Okay. Today I am celebrating a future win. Go with me here. Today, I’m celebrating that a year from today, August 19th, 2021. The podcast has reached 100,000 downloads. Ooh. Oh my gosh. That feels so good to say that I’m so proud of my future self. Okay. I know what you’re thinking. Probably two things actually. Number one thing. Wow. That’s really silly and very bold to proclaim such a huge goal so publicly, and then celebrate it before you actually achieve it. Oh my gosh. That’s going to hurt so bad when you fail. That might be what you’re thinking. Um, well, if you are thinking that, to you I would say yes, it is bold to proclaim such a huge goal so publicly. And yeah, I might fail quote fail, but I’ve been practicing being willing to fail publicly for over 15 years now of working in TV film and on stage, I am a pro at being willing to fail publicly, but just imagine how bad I would fail If I didn’t tell you the downloader that my personal goal is to reach 100,000 downloads. That is what is really silly. And now that you may see my point, you might be thinking, all right, okay, how can I help? Well, if you dig what you hear, then keep it with you. Download the podcast. If you’re using Apple podcasts, this might not be as easy or intuitive as I wish it was. It’s certainly not as intuitive as they think it is. So if you struggle downloading the podcast, DM me, @wordsthatmoveme podcast on Instagram or contact me at my website, theDanawilson.com at very very least, it’s a perfect excuse for us to be in touch. Okay, now you go, what’s going well in your world.
Killer. Congratulations. I am so glad that you are winning. Please do keep it up. Actually. I’m so glad that we’re talking wins right now because this episode has some really valuable insights about wearing your wins and shedding your losses. Okay. Let’s get into it. As the entertainment industry starts to turn back on, think dimmer switch, not on off switch by the way, how dim is it? Oh, we’re going to tell you exactly how much less work is coming through the pipeline this summer relative to recent years. And what does that mean about our responsibilities as dancers, agents, creatives, or even as consumers of dance, whether you are a seasoned pro new to the game or simply a dance fan. This episode is for you because today we’re talking to talent agents, specifically two of my agents from Clear Talent Group. First step is the lovely Meisha Goetz She has her hand in the dance choreography and digital departments over at clear talent group. And we are also joined by the president of CTG himself, Mr. Tim O’Brien. He is joining us with many, many years of experience and an Eagle’s eye view of this COVID moment in our history. These two offer real talk real discussions about a real tough market. And I think you will walk away feeling informed and inspired. So let’s get to it. Enjoy Meisha Goetz and Tim O’Brien from Clear Talent Group.
Oh my gosh. I’m so excited. Thank you so much for joining me today. This is Audition August where we seek to demystify the almighty audition, and if we happen to eliminate other dark corners of the industry, then so be it. I am joined by the lovely Misha Goetz and the one and only Tim O’Brien. Hello. Hello. And thank you for joining me. Hello.
Tim: Hi, Dana. It’s good to see you.
Dana: It’s. It’s good to see you guys too, albeit on a two dimensional surface. Yeah. Um, all right, so it’s it’s podcast tradition here to have my guests introduce themselves. Uh, why don’t we go ladies first? Meish..
Meisha: Sure, um, hello. My name is Meisha Goetz and I am one of the co-directors in the dance department at Clear Talent Group. And I also am an agent in the choreography department as well as the digital department.
Dana: Awesome. All right, Tim, who are you?
Tim: Hi, I’m Tim O’Brien. I’m the president of Clear Talent Group. Um, prior to that, I was a professional dancer for 10 years, and then I started one of the very first, uh, departments dedicated just to dancers a long time ago and, uh, have evolved into now owning my own agency and having, um, a wonderful group of agents like Meisha.
Yes, and a wonderful group of, uh, talent, which includes me as a matter of fact. Um, alright, so I have a billion questions for you, both and, um, probably some semi sensitive ones given the sensitive nature, or maybe I’ll say unusual nature of our industry right now. Um, but I would love to talk about obviously auditions in the before time and the auditions that you guys are seeing go out into the world now, um, while productions are certainly under different limitations than they normally are. But before we dig into that, um, Meisha, could you talk through, this is a tough one. Could you talk through the very broad strokes, the, the flow of information and the flow of actions, the flow of tasks that happen from the minute your phone rings and the person on the other side is looking for talent to the moment when the talent is cashing their check.
Meisha: Yeah, absolutely. Um, Broad, broad sense. Our job is to provide a service to either our clients or to the buyer on the other side. So when we get a phone call, we are trying to collect as much information as humanly possible. So that’s pretty much in simple terms, the who, what, where, when and why. So we’re collecting rates. If there’s a spec, if there’s a choreographer attached, um, and then from there it can go in two separate directions. They could either be requesting a submission from us, or it can go straight into an audition process. So in which it’s an open call, whoever fits the specs is getting the audition. Nowadays, we’re not having in-person auditions at all pretty much. So it’s all pretty much either direct booking, right? Direct bookings right now, or submission based. So this is when let’s just say, we’re going to go to go down a submission path. We’ll put together a submission, we’ll email it to the buyer. And a buyer is a producer, a casting director or choreographer. From there, we send this submission, we wait on selects. We may send a followup or two to make sure that they received. Once we receive this selects, then we are sending out the audition. I’m sending out the audition, we’re making phone calls to make sure that you receive the information if we haven’t heard from you. And then we’re going to text you. And from that point we formulate a list is then back to the buyer of who is planning on submitting their self-tape and they, and this state of the world. If anyone decides not to self-tape, that is our opportunity as agents to potentially pitch people that weren’t selected. Sometimes it’s a hit. Sometimes it’s a miss, really just varies. And then, then it’s just the waiting game. You know, you’re getting submissions, you’re making sure that they’re following all the instructions properly because that’s a shoe in if you’re not. And then from there, you know, the review process becomes on the buyer’s side, we wait for a booking, but prior to the booking, we’re getting avails. And then sometimes the avail goes into a hold. And then from the hold we’ll receive the booking, where we get all the details all comes together. And that’s my personal favorite part is of course, making a phone call to the clients, letting them know that they booked the job. And then the job happens, right? The best part, the job happens from there. We, if it’s a nonunion job, then we are collecting hours. We’re asking our clients, if there’s hazardous conditions onset, where did you have to wear your own wardrobe to make sure that we’re invoicing properly. And then from there we’re really money chasers every week we’re falling, you know, sending followups to the production companies to make sure that they’re getting paid on a timely basis.
That was so all encompassing. I’m very impressed and very clear. Thank you for that. Talk through it.
Tim: If I may just interject during that process is so important for the dancers to stay in contact with their agents. There’s so many times we put out calls and emails on a Tuesday night and on Wednesday morning, the staff has to come in and start chasing down the people that didn’t respond. And, uh, it can, it says the word I, that you always have to think of when you’re dealing with your agent, when we’re dealing with both the buyer and the talent is communicate, communicate, communicate as a choreographer, Dana, you know that the worst thing that can happen is you think you have your eight dancers and you book your eight dancers and you’re excited. And you know, I only to find out that one of them isn’t available. And, uh, so we try to avoid that at all costs. And the only way we can do that is by communicating. So I just can’t say enough about how important it is for the dancers to communicate with us so that we can represent them properly.
Right? Communication must be the most important part of this agent dancer relationship at every moment at every, in between stage Meisha of the, of the talk through, you just gave it every moment that information changes hands is an opportunity for there to be a misunderstanding. Um, it’s just like, honestly, it’s a pretty big game of telephone.
Absolutely! And I think what that experience the best is when clients were saying is communicative. And if they do have questions that we have created an environment for our clients, that they feel open enough. So whether that’s a text or call or email to make sure that when they walk through the room, they’re complete understanding the best of abilities, what job they’re about to be representing.
That’s crystal clear. That’s awesome. Um, I do want to draw some attention. You mentioned that on a nonunion job when you’re collecting hours and keeping track of hazardous conditions, that’s really on the dancer to be recording those details on the job. I think that’s something that not that most dance studios don’t prepare their dancers for is to how to not only deliver the dance goods, but to also be receiving information about what’s happening on set what’s in alignment with the way things should be going and what isn’t. And, and then of course, the way to ask for those things to be, um, you know, reconciled. Yes. Um, okay. Tim, let’s zoom out a little bit if we could. I’m so curious and I’m slightly afraid to ask, um, relative to say last summer around this same time, how much work is coming through the pipeline right now in 2020?
How much is coming through the pipeline? Um, not much. It’s, uh, I think, uh, especially in the live event world Broadway is totally shut down. Um, all kinds concerts are really shut down. You might hear about some body doing something at a drive in movie, which is a cute idea, but it’s usually, you know, occasionally you see that kind of thing. It’s a very tough market. It’s it’s I hate to give percentages, but it’s probably 10 or 20% of what it was last year. I mean, the last couple of years as you started this whole podcast was market. The business was really doing well. Dance has become extremely popular. Um, not just on a TV with the reality shows it’s been in movies and television and concerts, and it’s, you know, it was a great market and it’s just, you know, the brakes are on and, uh, you can’t, you just can’t, nobody’s going to be sitting shoulder to shoulder at staple center watching their favorite pop star is not going to happen. So it’s been hit pretty hard. And I think, um, that’s, that’s a reality that I don’t know about you, but when we first had our meeting at Clear Talent Group, I think on or about March 17th and before we started working at home, when I do go to the office, now we still have St Patrick’s day decorations. I mean, that’s what it is. I’ll start. Wow. And we thought, well, this could be a month, you know, maybe it’s six weeks. And then, then it became, it’s going to be three months. And now I think it’s really going to be 2021. And with the vaccine that we’re going to start getting back to normal. And I do think, and I know we’ll get back to normal, but yeah, we can’t kid ourselves. The market is, uh, slowed down enormously. And, um, I think it’s important. That’s why we, you know, we’re one of the few agencies that has a dedicated influencer department and, uh, the timing was good on that. And we’re trying to encourage our dancers to do all kinds of creative things, um, such as Dana Wilson started a podcast. Yeah. Um, so yeah, the answer to the question is this it’s off. I would say it’s off by 80% at least. It’s just the, market’s just not there. And then we are getting some movies and some, uh, episodic TV shows that are kind of giving us a heads up. Um, but that’s become like, uh, that, yeah, we’re going to start shooting in August. And then in middle of July, we’re going to start shooting, It actually is going to be September. And then, well, it’s going to be October. And then you start hearing about people saying it’s going to be 2021. Um, they just, you know, look, what’s happening. You have to, you know, I think it is important for dancers to pay attention to the world. And unfortunately this pandemic has been a huge wake up call that you do have to pay attention to the world and to our community, large and small. So yeah, it’s a, it’s not a good market. Now you have to, you know, as a dancer, I think you have to, we’ll get, I think we’ll get into this, but you have to keep your chops up and be ready for when it comes back. But, uh, you just have to start thinking of creative ways of, um, of not just working and generating income, which of course is important, but also keeping your sanity. You know, so yeah, to answer your question, uh, the market, um, is not good.
Copy that. Um, so can we talk about where dancers are landing in the market today? I think dance is having a bit of a high point when we look at things like Tik Tok and all of the shows, the dance shows on TV, um, uh, movie musicals are having a bit of a comeback moment. I think dance is very cool to be a dancer right now. Um, Tim, could you talk about specifically in the digital space, the role of a dance influencer, like internet seems to be really helping dance. Um, how does that help you as an agent and how might that hurt you as an agency? You know, the, the role of the internet and how my dance and dance influencers, um, be affecting dancers themselves in the digital space?
Well, I think that, um, with dancers working as influencers in the digital space, it’s a whole new market and anytime you can open up a new market, it’s great for your industry and then this case for the dance industry. So it gives a lot more, uh, there’s more options for dancers. Uh, there’s more ways to, um, to monetize your talent. And, um, so I think it’s a, it’s a, it’s a win, win. It’s a win for the dancers. It’s a win for the agents. How could it hurt? Um, the one thing about anytime we get into new markets, when music videos first started, and now with this, there’s a bit of a wild, wild west that happens. And, uh, producers, some of them not experienced, some of them very experienced will want to work directly with the dancer, with the influencer in this case. And it’s, it’s sounds like something that your agent tells ya, and, but it’s true. And that is a producer. Any producer will deal with the dancer or the artist in a different manner than they’ll deal with the artist representative. So you do get a percentage of influencers that want to do it all on their own, or they want to know calling an agent when they get in trouble. Well, maybe they didn’t get paid or the money wasn’t when it was supposed to be. Um, so I guess that’s how it could hurt the dance market is, uh, they’re, they’re, they’re then can become a race to the bottom if, uh, if, if, uh, if we’re not careful, but generally I think it’s really good for them. And I think it’s good for us. And, uh, it’s an exciting new world. It’s, uh, you know, uh, right at the top of the news today, you know, the, president’s talking about getting rid of Tik Tok, which is just shocking. Um, but, uh, so I think it’s a win, win, and, uh, but like anything else you just have to proceed carefully and, uh, and rely on your agents. We’re here for a reason. We’re here to help dancers. That’s my mission in life is, you know, how can we help dancers make it a better world for dancers and improve not just their income, but their working conditions and to make sure they’re being treated right. And their images are being misused. So it’s all good. It’s all good.
It’s all good. You’re bringing up some really important, um, parts of your responsibility as an agent and your roles as an agent, which I think some people might not have considered. I think in the minds of many, the agent is the person that gets you paid, but it’s so, so, so much more.
Um, I have though heard of a few projects and it kind of blows my mind that things actually still are happening, but I’ve heard of a couple commercials where they’re working remotely. They will quote location scout, somebody’s home via a zoom call where the, um, the talent walks their laptop through their house showing this is where my bed is. This is a window. This is, you know, my kitchen. This has this much space. It’s five feet from here to here, 12 feet from here to here. And then the director will decide, okay, move your bed over to the other corner. So people are shooting like talent, The dancer is becoming the set decorator. Um, like they’ll receive a package in the mail, that’s a lighting kit and they’ll set up their own lights. They’ll set up their own camera. They’re given a tripod, they have to balance the tripod. They’re given an iPhone or some other camera. What I’m seeing in the few examples that I know of, of work still happening, where the talent is becoming responsible for almost all parts of the project. There’s still a voice on the other side directing them. But wow. Um, I can’t imagine somebody who’s new to the game. Being able to take all of that on without knowing some basic camera terminology and onset language, without being able to speak with a director and take direction, be inside enough to deliver an awesome product, but outside enough to be taking direction, moving the camera, moving the light, doing all these things. So as the amount of work has gone down, is it safe to say that it’s so competitive that this might be the hardest time to catch a break?
Yeah. I think you brought up a lot of really important topics. Um, First I want to touch how you mentioned how dancers are having to become their own set designers, creative directors through this process. And I will say that, you know, us as agents have had to adapt to that as well as they’re taking on new roles of being their own makeup artists, and hair artists, we had to adapt on our side to make sure that we’re asking for that digital compensation because of the time spent on those things.
And resources, right? Like actual my makeup, actual my hair equipment, actual my space, like my actual space. So, so those talks are happening in the negotiation. Those things are being accounted for.
Absolutely. And as they come up and that just once again, bringing up communication is so important for the clients to communicate with us that these things are happening because otherwise there’s no way of us. We’re not there. There’s no way of us knowing that those things are happening.
Uh, Dana, if I could just interject on the other question you said, is it harder to get for a dancer to get a break? And I’ll answer a lot of this. Um, as agents, when we discover a new young talent and we really want you, you, the choreographer to see them, um, there’s nothing that is the same as getting them in the room. And how many times have you gone into a room and you have your favorites, you have the people you like, and you see that one person and you fall in love, you see them and you think I want to hire this person. They’re, they’re ready. And they’re, they’re talented. And they’re beautiful. And you kind of, as the day goes on in your audition, you, you actually created almost an emotional attachment. You want to give that person the first break. That’s really hard to do digitally it’s If we’re going to submit 20 self tapes you’re as the choreographer, you’re going to be, you’re going to be drawn to those people that, you know, can do the job, right. Even if they’re all in different rooms somewhere, and that’s the final shoot you were talking about commercials, just pay attention to how many commercials. Now it’s not 20 people or 10 or five people in a shot. It’s five shots of individual people. So, so it’s much harder I think, to get a break. Um, and so it’s tough. It’s a tough market. And that’s why the, especially the younger dancers, they really need to stay on their job, which their job definition right now is stay in shape, uh, take digital classes, um, make sure your pictures are ready because there’s going to be the day. And I think it’s not that far away. I think early 2021, where it’s going to take off again. Cause once we can start shooting, I mean, I have you watched everything on Netflix yet. Cause I’m getting close. So they need, they need, uh, they need material to go on Netflix and Amazon and Apple TV and Disney channel. Um, and they don’t have it because they’re not shooting. And so when things do start, my advice is be ready. But in answering your question, yeah, it’s hard for a young dancer to get a break, right. There’s less opportunities. And um, and there’s less ways to get at.
Yeah, I’ve heard actually a few choreographers use this term. I know Calvit Hodge has used it. And so as from Jamal Sims and they say, stay ready so you don’t have to get ready. And I love that.
It’s such a good quote, such a good mantra and thing to repeat. Um, especially in moments like this, where it is so tempting to take a little bit of a COVID vacation co-vacation, if you will. Um, I really like Tim, what you said about the need for more content. It didn’t dawn on me until this moment that the rate of consumption of media right now is probably higher than it’s ever been before. There will be huge demand for fresh new material enter talent. Right. So that’s really important. I think to remember,
Just think of some of the jobs like, um, we have Zach Woodley is not in Utah doing high school musical. Um, but they’re not, I think, I don’t think they’re halfway through the season. They need a season. So when they can, they’re going to start shooting. Um, and uh, little mermaid came back from London. Um, movie’s not done. Those are just the projects that had started. And then if you start thinking of the projects that want to start, it’s going to be, I think, and I hope I’m right. I think it’s going to be a bit of a boom town that, um, once you can shoot, once we do get a vaccine and uh, we can really get back to work. I think, um, in our business it is going to be, it may be a, like a slight dimmer switch turning on. It might not be a full light switch, but it’s going to go on and it’s going to start burning bright, uh, at some point and it’s going to be a lot of stuff out there ready to go to work.
Cool. I, I think that is a very hopeful thought. I will choose to keep that thought. Um, I do want to, I do want to circle back to what you mentioned around the audition, however, how nothing can be a substitute for that in-person in the room face to face exchange. So I hear you loud and clear, but I do want to add another angle, um, especially, and this is from the talent end of things. Actually, I love being asked to self submit to self-tape because I get to control all of the things I get to decide If I do 45 takes. I get to decide where my light is. If I change my outfit six different times, based on how it looks on camera. I get to choose the edit. I really enjoy that element. Um, and perhaps this is because I’m a person that has a decent technical aptitude for video editing, music editing, et cetera. But, um, I’m wondering if there are any things, any elements, be it in the audition or otherwise that are happening now that you think won’t go away. Like the self-tape is, has always existed, but was used much less. Will it be used more? Is it useful? Is it helpful? Is it cheaper than renting space and having a massive cattle call, um, is, is the talent using their own lights and doing their own hair and makeup going to be something that stays because it’s cheaper. Is it visibly that much worse than the alternative? Like what, what things are we seeing now that you think will stay even in the new normal?
Yeah, I mean, to be completely honest, I think that we were already straying less and less away from open auditions. There were hardly as much open auditions from when I started at the agency to right before COVID hit. So yeah, I think that concept is going to be more and more, at least it’s going to be more submission based, more direct bookings and more, um, select auditions. So private auditions.
Dana, let me ask you as a choreographer. Um, if, if you look at self-tapes, cause I think earlier on if we people would send us tapes and we would look at that tape and decided where we wanted to see them in person, this was back in the good old days, about five years ago. Um, uh, as a choreographer don’t you want to see, I mean, if you have to kind of separate the people that you know, and you work with, you have a relationship with, or that you’ve seen and you admire, from the people that you haven’t seen. So if you see somebody who submits a self-tape, uh, do you want to see them in person or do you want to, are you okay with just seeing the self tape and saying I’ll hire that, that person.
You know what? You’re bringing up a great, an excellent point. The answer for me is both. I love a first round, like first like massive dump of video submissions that I can scrub through very quickly determine, you know, it’s true. What they say on performances. Start big, finish big fill in the middle. I will, I will watch the beginning of somebody’s submission and the end. And if I need any more information, I’ll go look for it. But that saves me a lot more time than, than inviting one at one at a time into the room or five at a time into the room teaching a two minute combination watching a two minute combination, like that takes a lot of time. And I actually, I don’t so much mind having the scrub process takes far less time, but then at the end of that scrub process, you’re right, Tim, I want to see the human and I want to know how they interact because it’s not just the talent that matters. It’s the directability, the energy, the relationship, the openness of the person to really get the job done, which is less obvious in a video submission than it isn’t.
And sometimes it’s behavior in the room. One of the funniest auditions I ever observed, uh, the choreographer at the very end, uh, was getting ready to take a group of 10 dancers on a tour. And he was really ruminating and trying to make those last decisions. You got 20 people in the room, you’re trying to pick the eighth and he’s looking at it and he’s talking to his assistant and finally he looks up and um, I’ll use a different word, but he said, can I get the hands of the jerks that are out there? You know who you are? He didn’t use the word jerks. Um, he said, you know who you are. You’re the one that’s always, you know, making trouble when It’s not necessary. Can I just get your hands? And all the dancers kinda just looked at each other. I thought it was a hysterical.
Did anybody raise their hand?
Nobody raised their hand, nobody raised their.. but you understand the point. You’re trying to get a vibe. You’re trying to get a feel, especially when you’re going on the road or when you’re doing a movie. Look how long you were In the Heights when you’re choreographing that it’s, it’s, it’s a family you’re together every day. And it’s important to be able to pick up the vibe of the people that this is so important to be comfortable in the room you like to work with the people you like to work with. And so one of the challenges for a dancer is how do you become one of those people that people like to work with?
Yes. And how do you get that across if you are that person that, but they don’t know it yet. How do you genuinely genuinely translate that, um, in an audition experience or in a self tape, even, um, how does that come across? How do you actually..
Yeah, I mean, it’s like right now, when I’m at the market or wherever with a mask, I almost want to tell people I’m smiling in this conversation.
Who was I just telling this? My smiles have now transferred there in my whole body when I’m wearing a mask, my body smiles and I just bounce so that people know I’m kind. Um, it’s so funny that you mentioned that. I was just saying that it’s so funny. Um, okay. I love this story, Tim of this, like getting down to brass tacks, asking the room. Okay. Be real with me. Who, who are you like, how do you behave? Um, I’ve been in the room when similar, awkward in the audition room that is. When similar questions are asked as like this narrowing down of people. And it can feel very, um, uh, dehumanizing to an extent actually I think auditions are in general. It’s not uncommon. And I think it will be addressed. Um, when we see our world get back to normal, at least I hope to see this change. Um, a little bit less black girls over there, white girls over here. No, no, no, honey, you go, you go with the Brown girls. Okay. Red heads over there. It’s it’s like very extremely dehumanizing and insensitive. Um, I hope to see it change. Um, but I’m curious, Meisha, do you have any other, um, hopes for the way that auditions will change moving forward?
Yeah. And I think that you brought up a really great point and I think that we are starting to see that change just this week. Uh, casting directors are changing their language. When they’re asking for submissions with, please tell me we’re done with ethnically ambiguous. Yes. I haven’t seen ethically ambiguous in the past week. I would say,
What does it mean? It’s almost like sending me people are there ethically I don’t know, right? It’s almost makes no sense.
It seems very hurtful in a way to me to just say, okay, others, you others versus like you actuals you real things. You, you identities.
You know, in the past have been asked to revise our submission because what exactly what that statement is, what exactly is ethically ambiguous? So we could submit and they could be like, Oh, we didn’t ask for this.
And then you’re like, well you, what, what are we supposed to be getting off of? So I think people are at the end of the day, right now, it’s a positive change that we’re seeing. And for example, there was a submission and they said, people, humans they are starting to use those type of terminology, which is refreshing to see
Opposed to women or men?
Exactly. And the end of the day, we’re all humans.
So I love this. I love this so much. Okay. I’m so glad to hear that. Agents are starting to see a positive shift in the language of audition notices and casting breakdowns. I am jumping out here because I want to share a teachable moment, no matter what your job title, agent, casting director, teacher, talent, public figure, or private figure. You are a leader to someone, someone is looking to you for what to say and how to act. People in those leadership roles. And again, that means all of us, all of us are a leader to someone, people in leadership roles must demonstrate an effort to be culturally sensitive and progressive. It is our responsibility to employ the language and the actions that reflect the values of the world that we want to live in. The world that we are creating. If I’ve learned one thing since starting this podcast, it’s that words are important. Yes, words fall in and out of fashion. Yes, they hold different meanings in different contexts. Yes, I will almost certainly wish I had used them differently, but they are important. All right. With that said, let’s jump back in and hear Meisha demystify and decode some common audition language.
I have seen a handful of times, some very coded language come through on audition breakdowns, which is what the buyer is asking for things for example, like dress, body conscious or looking for ethnically ambiguous people. Could you demystify what those words mean? Or, and are there any others that you think might be easily misunderstood? Any, any kind of code language that somebody new to the industry might not speak yet?
Yeah, I think that’s a really great question. And sometimes, honestly we are trying to figure it out ourselves, but I think what’s really important is to understand the artists that you were making that submission for or the brand that you’re making that submission for. So body conscious going into a Beyonce audition is going to be completely different then going into a Ryan Heffington for example, body conscious audition. So, and that’s what our clients can and should utilize us for is I will have clients text me outfit options to make sure that what they’re auditioning in is going to be best represented and that they’re not going to walk in and be like, well, you said body conscious, but could mean literally pretty much anything that is form fitting to you. It doesn’t always have to mean I’m going to be wearing minimal clothing. It could just mean, I want to see your lines, our job to determine what that means for this specific project that we’re working on.
Okay. Love that. So there’s this element of like, if, if communication is mom, then dad is like research, right? Talk, get the information and then research. Do your homework, figure out what that means in this specific instance.
Absolutely. And I always see the most successful dancers that I have seen are the ones that if you’re going in for a commercial audition, per se, that you’re researching the brand’s history, that you are looking at previous brands that the in previous ads that have been ran by the company and see what direction they’re moving towards, tried to base your decisions of what you’re wearing and how you’re going to walk in from your research. And we’re here to help you with that research as well.
Oh man. Oh, I used to be a person that fast forwarded through commercials. You know, I loved my shows and I wanted to just be in the show. But since I started working in commercials and since I’ve had the help of a handful of commercials in making a down payment on a home, I now watch commercials very carefully. And I really enjoy the things that I learned and observed. One of the things that I’ve noticed about commercials is almost always, you’ll see wedding rings on lead people. Married people apparently are trustworthy. They make good decisions. We want to be like that. Another thing that I noticed, and I, whenever I teach audition workshop or audition skills in, in any of my classes, um, I ask people for the last time they saw a belly button in a commercial that was not for Pepto Bismal or Tums, yet most of the dancers, I know when they go audition for a commercial, they’re wearing a midriff shirt. I’m like really? When was the last time you saw that happen on the commercial? Not very often. So I think when auditioning for commercials, yes. The idea of body conscious is certainly more conservative than if we’re talking music videos. In which case I cannot recall the music video where there was not visible belly button. Okay. So know what you’re going in for big, big thing.
Um, okay. Let’s, I’d like to open to both of you, and this is like the kernel of what I would love to, for my listeners to walk away with today. What do your clients that are consistently working consistently do and what do they not do that keeps them working?
I think the dancers that are consistently working are the dancers that take their career and they put it as, as dancers you are your own business entity and the dancers that have a business mindset and take their careers as such are the ones that tend to be most successful successful. So the do’s and the don’ts, I think we touched upon this in, at the end of the day, people want to be around good people, kind humans, people that they enjoy being around. And that is priceless. There could be the most talented dancer in the world, but they don’t have a good attitude at the end of the day, that’s is going to get around danceville. Like I used to, like I like to say dance world is very small and it can be extremely damaging to a career. So be a good human, keep your relationships up, stay in communication with your team and treat yourself as you should as your own business.
Tim, do you have anything you’d like to add to that?
You know, I always say look for when I used to audition and if I didn’t get the job, which happens all the time, um, less and less as life as went on. Um, anyway, I like to, I would make a point of going to see, see that show on TV to see who they did hire. I would even sneak into studios to watch them rehearse, to see who they hired. Cause I wanted to know, okay, why did they hire that guy and not me? Um, but at the end of the day, the dancers that work all the time, if you look at them, they’re really good. They, they are really good and not just really good technique. They know how to perform on camera. They know how to, uh, to act in the room. It’s like what you were talking about with self-tapes. They know how to self-tape they’ve taken the time to learn this.
And, and it gets back to also being somebody that people want to work with on a personal level. So I don’t know really it’s there’s people you’ll see them and you’ll see them in every job. And you think, and you don’t even have to think about it. It’s like, well, of course they got the job they’re perfect. And that can change from job to job. Um, one movie is definitely different than any other and you know, sometimes it’s just not your job. It’s yeah, there is no really other explanation other than, you know what, it’s not your job. It just didn’t come down your way. So you’ve got to move on.
I love that you brought that up and I love that you’re a curious person who, who will follow up on the project instead of develop this, um, like scab about the project, right? You get cut. And then all of a sudden that project becomes the worst and you didn’t want it anyways and you know, forget them. And you don’t go back to look at it because it might be painful, but you look at what it was and you learn and you, you learn from what you might do differently next time. Um, it’s one of my favorite things when I’m auditioning, when I’m in the room to not watch the talented people auditioning, but to watch the people on the other side of the table and what they’re watching, I really like that you brought that up. I think it would be good practice for the dancers that are listening to, um, try as hard as you can to not develop the scar or the scab that will keep you from looking back at that project that you did not get that you thought that you would, but instead go back and look and say, Oh, okay, what, what was that? And why was that not me? Knowing that the answer to that is it’s okay, that it’s not me, but you can absolutely learn from that. If you go look,
I love that you said that. And one theory of mine and I, you see it happen. Um, because we, we often have our clients and we want them to come to us and say, “Hey, you know, I’ve been to five auditions and I get to the end and I don’t get picked, or I don’t get to the end.” Um, and the advice I see it happen where people, they take their last audition, the last loss, the last rejection to the next audition. And if you’re not careful, I love that. You said, there’s there scabs or whatever you want to call it. They, they take that loss and they start owning it right. Instead of shedding it. And you have to just, it’s so many times you tell somebody, Hey, you did great. It just, this wasn’t your, this wasn’t the time for your, we had somebody else that was, um, you know, that was better. But if you take that loss, if you take it personally and you drag that to the next audition and then the next, and then the next, and then what you have on your hand is a desperate, depressed dancer. And nobody wants to look desperate and depressed. Um, you have to take, um, you have to take joy in, into every audition and that’s what you do so well with everything you do. Um, you have to enjoy it. Why else are you dancing? You know, you’re dancing the emotion and the joy of it. So you have to be able to express that. And if you’re going to kind of lock down those feelings and own them, it’s going to be more and more difficult,
Right? Especially if you are dancing in the commercial industry where the whole point of commercials is to sell the idea that life, with this thing, with this pop star, with this product, with this brand, whatever life with this thing is better. You’re more joyful. You’re more happy, which I do think is kind of a damaging attitude as far as mental health is concerned. But it’s, it’s part of what we’re asked to do is like demonstrate life with this thing is so great before I had Skechers. I didn’t dance, but when I have Sketchers on life is great and I’m joyful and all the things. So the, the capacity to be happy and joyful and resilient is definitely an attractive quality. Anytime I’m looking to book a dancer, um, fortunately for me, it’s part of my disposition to be joyful. I’ve actually gotten some criticism on that. Like Dana, could you please stop smiling? Um, but yeah, it’s to not bring Tim the word you used, the thing is so, so important, desperate. And after being knocked out of the ring so many times, it can, especially at a time like today, when many of us have gone without a job for so long, it may be hard to walk in the room without that tinge of desperation. But I think, again, I go back to asking, when was the last time you saw a commercial or a music video where the dancers behind the product or the, or the person looked desperate? Like that’s not a look that we seek. Um, the other one that I use as an example, when I’m teaching audition techniques is fear. Like when was the last time you saw somebody looking afraid behind Beyonce? Actually never like, that’s the look that doesn’t get you hired. So although it is usually the feeling somewhere underneath all of that being afraid is normal in an audition, but it’s certainly not the thing that you’re selling most often
I think you have to approach it as a skateboarder, approaches his ride down the hill or a skier or a, you know, any of those challenges. Is it scary? Yeah. It’s a little bit scary, but you know, it’s a blast, like a basketball player getting into a game. You have to approach it as like, you know, I’m going to kill this and I’m going to have a good time doing it. Um, I used to love auditions. I hate getting cut, but I love auditions.
That’s awesome. Um, Meisha, do you have anything else, any other audition stories, whether they’re your own or stories that you’ve heard, um, coming to you via clients that might be inspiring or otherwise very entertaining.
Yeah. Um, honestly, there’s so many that come to mind. When you say that question, it’s hard to pinpoint one experience or even my own experiences in, you know, auditioning. But I will say there is seriously nothing better than hearing our client’s experiences after an audition. And that has been unfortunately, a little eliminated during this time because we have an open door policy, pre pandemic, where clients would audition. They come in, they’re sweaty, they’re telling their stories and you’re getting to know your clients better. And that’s the joy. One of the many joys of our job. But one time specifically, this is probably more recent. I would say was there was three audition. There was two major auditions happening at the same time with a major job taking up. I think there was 40 girls booked on this project. And one was a super bowl audition. One was a Superbowl commercial audition. And then one was for a major artist music video that 40 top industry girls were booked on. And they were all happening at the same time. So we were, I mean on a high, right? Like this cannot get any better for our dancers. And then you receive the times and the locations, they’re all the same time and they’re all spread across LA. So at this point we’re like, Oh my gosh, what are we supposed to be doing? So it was a thrill. I will have to say very least because thankfully the choreographers actually all work together. You know, you hear the buzz of course. And you know, dancers started asking the choreographers, Hey, can I leave for just 10 minutes? And that specific choreographer, right? 10 minutes, that specific choreographer that was holding a Superbowl audition said it was his last audition for the next four years. So everybody was like, I need, this is my chance to be at this audition. I was getting time changes for these auditions every 10, 20 minutes call times were changing for the music videos. I mean, it was, I woke up at 6:00 AM and it was just non nonstop and that whole day clients in and out, and that’s as the best. That’s what you, what you want for your clients.
Can I interject right here? Dana? One thing I want to make a point to the dancers is how invested we as agents are in your careers and you could see it or hear it in Meisha’s voice when she was talking about that. We, we don’t represent people that we don’t want to represent. It’s we believe in you. We want you to work. That’s our mission in life is to help you find your way in this crazy career that we’ve all chosen. Um, so when we recommend somebody for a job is because we know you is the right person for the job, and we want you to get that job. And so when, when they come in and their heart’s broken because they didn’t get the job or they come in, because they said, they’re so excited, cause they did get the job or, you know, whatever it is and happens where we’re just totally into it and totally committed. And it’s, it’s, uh, we live through you guys. So it’s, you know, you are our passion where we’re in this business. You can’t be a dance agent without being passionate about it without loving dance and loving the dancers. And, uh, I just, I just want dancers to know that we are, we, we believe in you, we are with you and we just want only success for you. And, and we also understand that it doesn’t always come that way, so we want to figure out, okay, what’s way around it. How are we going to get to that point? So just want to say that,
Oh, I’m so glad that you did. And in fact, I cannot imagine winding winding off. I cannot imagine going out on a higher note Tim, that’s a brilliant sentiment and it must be true. I, I don’t know how you would sit through how many emails a day on average, do you think
Hundreds, hundreds of emails a day without being passionate and wanting to see, um, your client succeed. And I certainly do feel that enthusiasm from you guys in, in being a part of your team, um, feel so tremendously supported. And, and also I’m so glad Meisha that you shared that you mentioned this, the open door policy. I hadn’t really considered the side effect of the pandemic being this, um, the bright spot in your day of seeing my face, uh, experiencing the joy or in some cases, the terror of an audition, um, that, that piece of the agent/client relationship is missing right now. I hadn’t thought about it. I’m glad you brought that up. I think it’s a good reminder for everybody who has an agent right now to check in with them, tell them, hello, tell them a story from your life. And, um, and for all of those dancers seeking representation, um, don’t hide, put yourself out there, put your work out there. There will be a need for you and your talent. Um, and hopefully that need will be coming soon.
Okay. Well, Dana, thanks so much for inviting us on your podcast. Um, you know, I’ve been a fan of yours ever since it was a Dancer’s Alliance meeting that you were heading. And I remember thinking, I love that woman. And I went up to you afterwards and just said, I just think you’re great. And uh, I always thought you should be in commercials. And you know,
I remember this, this was before I was at Clear Talent Group. And you introduced yourself to me afterwards. I think you said, I think you said, who are you? Which I think is how I started this call with you. So how appropriate is that? Um, well, I, I feel seen, thank you guys so much and thank you for talking. I hope that everybody listening learned a lot as I know I have, and I just dropped my, um, uh, Fanny pack off my chair. So that made a great noise. We’ll we’ll go out.
All right. Thank you. Thank you.
You guys. I miss you miss they good. Stay good. Stay healthy
Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to become a board member. So kickball change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.
Intro: This is words that move me. The podcast were movers and shakers. Like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hello. Hello everybody. And welcome to words that move me. I’m Dana and I am stoked that you are here. Yes. This is week two of audition August all this month. I am talking to different people from all sides of the casting table about what the audition process is to them and what usually works. What usually doesn’t, how are auditions changing and how might we change to ensure our ability to create work for ourselves? It’s a big month. And at the end of this big month, really big event, I will be hosting a virtual workshop event via zoom on how to audition. Yes, I will be dishing out almost all of my personal tips and tricks. Come on. I’m no fool. And I will go deep on the art of the self tape as that is the primary way people are submitting for projects right now, the workshop itself will be on August 31st from 4 to 5:30 PM Pacific. More details and info about registering. It can be found on my website, the Dana wilson.com. And you better believe I will be shouting about this loud and proud from the gram I’m @danadaners and the podcast is @wordsthatmovemepodcast. So check out all of those spaces for more information, so jazzed about it. Okay. Let’s move on to wins. Yes. This week, I am celebrating a project, a new seaweed sisters project. If you do not know what and who the seaweed sisters are, I strongly encourage you take a google dive and watch our video work, but also give a listen to words that move me episode 15, where the sisters and I sit and chat about ourselves. Very, very special. Anyways. Yes. The seaweed sisters have another video in the works. It is in the camera already actually. And, um, I always celebrate my time with the sisters, but this one is particularly special, not just because we are creating with our dear friend and longtime collaborator, Isaac Ravishankara who also directed us in number two, the sequel and number three part tree. And not just because we shot it socially distant and, um, corona compliant. But also because we got the ball back rolling on this one. Now I’m sure that everyone listening has experienced an unusual pattern in their motivation. At some point, during 2020, for me, this is a matter of momentum, more or less when things especially projects are rolling, they stay rolling. But when they’re on pause, it can be extra hard to get things moving again. So I’m celebrating this project as a win because it is an awesome example of people coming together to push things into motion. And I’m so excited for it to exist. And I’m excited to share it with you. Okay. What’s going well in your world. What’s moving.
Okay. Killer great. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Congratulations. I’m so glad that you are winning. All right. Let’s dig into it. This week’s guest is Kristian Charbonier. He is an associate casting director at Telsey and Company. One of the biggest casting offices in New York city. And we met on In the Heights. Um, the feature film adaptation of Lin Manuel Miranda is Broadway hit, In the Heights. Uh, we met last year and Oh, yes, don’t worry. We’re going to talk plenty about In the Heights, but this conversation really looks into what a casting director does and what you can do to create memorable casting and audition experiences. We talk collaboration, we talk inclusion and equity on Broadway, on stage and behind the curtain on screen and behind the camera. Oh, we talk a great many things. So let’s dive in. I hope you enjoy this conversation with Kristian Charbonier. I’ll talk to you guys later.
Dana: Kristian! Welcome to words that move me. Thank you so much for being here today. I’m jazzed about it.
Kristian: Thank you for having me I’m jazzed as well.
Dana: Yay. Um, okay. So one of the things I like to do on the podcast is I have my guests introduce themselves. So tell us a little bit about you and what you do.
Kristian: Yes. So my name is Kristian Charbonier. I reside in New York city. I’m currently, given the circumstances, in Miami, Florida with my family, where I was born and raised. Um, I am a casting associate at Telsey and Company casting in New York. Our office is a little different from most casting offices, just considering we do a very big collaborative situation of all the projects we work on. We work on TV shows. We work on films, broadway musicals, Broadway plays, commercials, any sort of situation where we need a cast dancers for fashion week. Like we’ve done some time. Throw us something we’ve probably done it. We’ve cast people for video games before. Um, and I have worked there for about four and a half years now. I started there right as I graduated college and I’ve been there since, and I have learned so much and I have grown so much as a person, as an employee. I’m sure we’ll get into it.
Oh, we’re going into it. We’re going into all of the things. Um, so I’m glad that you kind of dropped the line about all of the different things that casting directors, casting associates and casting assistants do. Um, but before we dig deeper on that, could you touch on the difference between those three titles?
Absolutely. So you typically in casting start as an assistant, which is the way I started as well. Um, assistant sounds just like it is, you are assisting on every single thing that the project calls for in regards to casting. So you’re putting out the appointments, you’re helping cut the sides for the auditions. You’re prepping the audition with the casting director and with the associate you’re uploading the tapes to send to the team. Um, you’re really the main point of focusing in terms of organization. I say to all of our interns and the assistants who come in and out of our office, that our main job there is organization. The best associates were amazing assistants as well. If you move from assistant to associate, then as an associate, you really take a lot more responsibility than you did as an assistant. You’re the one in the session, reading with the actors, coaching the actors, you’re really discussing with the creative team on a more personal basis, a lot more than an assistant would. Um, I think this is really the point in your career where you’re really formulating yourself into being a casting director, which the director is the face of the project. The person who’s on all calls is negotiating. The deals with the big agents is giving you the ideas that you might not typically think of as an associate. Um, you’re, you’re the main source of collaboration in that specific field. Um, I’m sure you know this because you are so collaborative in everything we’ve done together. Um, the collaboration is so key, especially in those relationships. You have to have an open form of communication. You really have to be able to trust each person that you’re working with because when you fall, they’ll pick you up when they fall you’re supposed to be there to pick them up.
I love this notion that behind every individual role, there is a team. Like there is no such thing, especially in terms of making a movie or a Broadway show of one person carrying all the weight. It might be one person carrying all the post its or highlighters, but it is absolutely a team effort and you have to be a collaborative person to succeed. So, okay, this week on actually not just this week, this month on the podcast, I’m talking exclusively, almost exclusively about auditions. So that makes me talking to you really, really exciting because not many people get a direct line of communication with the casting associate or the casting director. Um, other than that quick 20 minutes in the room. So I think this is an awesome opportunity to hear a little bit more about A. what you do B. how it works behind the scenes and, um, C. kind of what you look for, what stands out to you in the process. Um, so I, I guess let’s dig into it. You mentioned that Telsey does everything from Broadway to film to fashion week. All of the things. I know that in the past they’ve cast, um, actually current Broadway shows Hamilton, Wicked, West Side Story, Frozen to name a few, but in the past, everything from American in Paris to Fiddler on the Roof to, I mean, quite literally all the things Oh, in the Heights obviously, um, which transitions us into film, you guys were the agency behind, um, is that correct? The agency? What is Telsey? The agency.
Oh, okay. Great. So, so Telsey was the office behind, um, casting In the Heights. The film that I worked on with Christopher Scott, Emilio Dosal, um, Ebony Williams and Eddie Torres jr. What a dance team, shout out friends team, um, Telsey also was responsible for casting the Greatest Showman, Mary Poppins, the one with Emily blunt, which I love. And one of my favorite movies of all time Across the Universe directed by Julie Taymor, which between you and I, and now between us and the world, there is not one thing that I would change about that movie. I would not change a single character casting. I wouldn’t change a step. I wouldn’t even change the one part where the guy with the briefcase kind of slips and falls a little bit. I love it. I would, I love it all. It’s so great. Um, but you guys don’t just do musicals. I guess one thing I’m curious about is the difference in process. If there is one from casting, a Broadway show that involves singing, dancing, all the things to casting a dramatic film or TV series, um, I mean, obviously you would audition one for singing and dancing and not the other, but other than that, is there a difference in process for different mediums?
It depends on the medium. Um, I would say that in TV and film, there’s more structure to the process in terms of deadline and when certain things have to happen, because there are so many moving parts in that regard. Um, whereas in a Broadway show, there is a structure and a deadline, of course, because we have dates. We have first rehearsal, we have the presentation, we have all of those outlying dates. Um, but I do think that in terms of a Broadway show, there is a little more time to really amp up the pace. Whereas TV and film, you really got to go from the start just because you know, that that first day of principal photography is not moving and you have to get that that day, um, which is something you and I learned very well together.
That is exactly why I found myself in the middle of times square at Telsey and Company. Well after hours, I don’t even remember what time it was, but there was nobody there except for In the Heights choreography team and you and we were sitting in an office with probably a hundred headshots on the floor and magnetism or pinned to the walls. And we’re just moving people around, having conversations, imagining this person with this person, no, that person with this person, these people, as a group, this person as a standout individual, you know, all of the different combinations of people. And that was because we were pressed for time, extremely pressed for time on that project. Would you say that that’s standard when you work on films, does that sort of thing happen often?
Yes. I will say once we get past the point of the principal players in the film, which that’s not even ultimately true, because sometimes we are casting go, go, go, let’s cast every single principal, that’s cast every single supporting role, let’s cast all the dancers and singers at the same pace. In the Heights was a little different because we really had time to prep for those principles and then once we started together, as we’ve said, five times already, it was go, go, go from the start. Um, that to me is the way I love to work, so it was never anything alarming or crazy to me. It was just like the thrill of sitting there and just moving everything around is like, it’s just, I can’t explain that. I never will be able to. Um, so that, that in regards to again, a TV/film project is more so that way where let’s sit here for three hours at 9:00 PM and let’s go through it all and let’s make it happen.
Yes. Let’s make it happen. That is the energy. That was the energy of the room. Um, do you have a steel trap memory for names and faces? Are you, are you really like, even outside of your job training, have you been good at that?
I, I really, it’s kind of weird that I do have that and I don’t think I really realized it until I started working professionally. I still see people to this day who I remember, like seeing them perform it in high school at our like state competitions. And I’ll be like, Oh yeah, that girl sang this song from bat boy, my junior year of high school. And now she’s in final callbacks for Elphaba on Broadway. Like those things happen all the time. Um, which again, I think is such a healthy and good thing for my specific position in the company, because you have to be that person to be able to remember, um, Chris Scott and I had a big joke where he would always be like, who was that girl again? And I’ll say she was wearing the red shirt that I had like a T on the side. And then she had like purple shoelaces, remember? And he’ll be like, how did you remember that? And I’m like, I don’t know. It’s just the way my brain works. It’s the way we work. You know,
I love that. And in the event that your sticky brain slips and misses someone, tell me about the room that you showed us at Telsey that is literally floor to ceiling binders of everyone that is auditioned for projects in the past. Um, you keep all the headshots, resumes, bios, like that room was such an incredible archive of, of audition history.
Yes, it’s amazing because we, number one, thankfully have this space for that. And number two, um, we see so many incredible people all the time. That just because they’re not right in that exact moment, doesn’t mean that a year from now two years from now, six months from now, they will, they won’t be the right person. It’s it happens all the time. And the best thing is, is when we get a new project and you’re like, I worked on, I worked on this commercial like two years ago that I needed a 75 year old who could do a pas de bourses, let me go find those schedules and see who it was that got called back for that, because I knew those people again, right now. That’s an amazing archive that we have. And it’s also really fun as an industry slash theater nerd, to just look through those schedules. We do it all the time. We’re like, can you believe that? So, and so came in for this role in 1996 and got like, it’s just, it’s unbelievable. And you saw them yourself. There’s so many. Um, and it’s just
Floor to ceiling as big as my living room and bigger maybe. I mean, incredible amount of history and information. And yeah, as you pointed out like some super special, uh, like historic moments in terms of transformation and trajectory, the existence of that room in and of itself speaks to a motto that I hold when I go into auditions all the time. And that is, it’s more important to be memorable than to be perfect. And once I lift the pressure of being perfect, once my only objective is to be memorable, I opened myself up to new potential. That’s just not stressed out energy, but also to sticking myself into the mind of somebody like you, who really might remember that moment as being the right moment for something else, trying to be the perfect thing for every project just doesn’t exist, but trying to be memorable enough to stick in someone’s mind so that when the right product project comes along, you’re there at the top of the mind. Like that is so cool. And it’s so cool that you guys have a paper trail for that.
And I love that motto that you said, yes, it’s perfection. It, it’s not necessary. It’s for that specific, be the best that you can be in that moment. That’s it. There’s nothing more. That moment exists, one time, you leave. It won’t happen again. That’s it.
I love this. Let’s talk through the role of an associate casting director on the day of a massive audition. Go.
Great. So typically, because I, even though I just said, you don’t have to be perfect, am a perfectionist in my mind. So the night before I am very excited, but also just thinking about every single thing that I can do to make it go flawlessly, which again, we both know that that really doesn’t exist. Um, but we can try. But, um, so we’ll get to the studio about an hour before we start session, um, with our hundreds of schedules and all the names. Um, two days prior to that, I’ll spend all day on the phone with the agents talking about who’s new that I don’t already know that I haven’t scheduled yet, who they think I should try.
These are talent agents.
Yes. Talent Agencts. Um, we’ll get to the studio an hour before we’ll start to get the room going. Everything’s set up our systems. And then once we bring that first group in, it’s go, go, go. As you know, until that last second that the studio director comes and tells us you have to leave. Um, which once again, we have, we have experienced together,
Probably why we wound up back at your offices. They were like, you don’t have to go home, but you got to get out of here. And we all look at you like, uh,
And, um, as, as you associate in those moments, really what you’re there to do is to serve the creative team. We’re trying to help you guys figure out your vision and figure out what you think is necessary to achieve what you have in your mind. Um, we’re also there to help you out in the event that you’re not really familiar with someone and maybe you’re, you want some sort of extra feedback about someone that we’re very comfortable with and have tried multiple times and have booked on jobs or are big fans of, um, so there’s a lot of that. There’s a lot of, again, the word that always comes to mind every time I’m discussing any of these things is collaboration and the best people to work with are the people who we collaborate with. That’s something that I experienced with you and Emilio and Ebony and Chris, all from the second I met you guys was that it was such a collaboration and it was such a dialogue the entire time, It was never, I want this and that’s it. It was, I want this, what do you think? Right. Which is so important.
So helpful. So helpful. Yes. Okay. So that’s a big day. Um, so you come in, sorry, you, you talk to the agencies, you make the schedule, you talk to the creative team, you have an understanding of what it is that the creative team is looking for. You have sign up sheets, you make sure everybody is where they need to be at the right time. And then we hit record on cameras. Choreo team kind of takes it away. We start funneling people through, we teach material, we break people into groups, make sure everybody’s visible on camera and that we know how to contact people when we’re ready. And then of course begins the, um, endless watching of the footage, which there was a bundle of. Um, and I love that by the way. I, wow. Can’t imagine how things were done before. Um, actually I can just much more labor intensive on the dancers behalf. Like I can watch you dance 12 times on tape instead of making you dance 12 times in person.
Exactly. Yeah. It’s amazing to think. And you see these old movie musicals with these hundreds of people in the background and you’re like, how did they do this without a computer. And they danced
They danced! And they took notes and they took notes and the danced, that’s it. Um, okay. So then you organize that, that footage I’m assuming, and that goes into an archive somewhere.
Yes. We upload ’em to a system that’s called Cast It, which a lot of TV and film offices use. And that’s another way that everything stays really organized. So that in the event that you’re asking me for tape on a person, I can just easily go into the, into the archive and find that tape and send that to you all.
So you’ve got all the digital organized, you’ve got all the material, you know, the paper headshots and resumes organized. And then the moment comes where creative has decided that we’re ready to book people in. What is your role in doing that? How does that, how does that work flow pan out from me saying, I want Sarah to Sarah getting a phone call saying show up at this time, on this day for this many dollars. What’s that work flow
Yes. So that’s the best part about our job is when you get to call someone and tell their agent that they got the job. Um, so once we hear from you and we have all approvals to move forward and hire this specific person, or people we’ll call the agent will say, Hey, so, and so’s getting the job. I’m going to email you all the offer details. We’ll send all the offer details. Once we close that deal, I will say, I will fill out a whole bunch of paperwork, send that over to production. And then production is the person who takes over and then does all the phone calling, sets up their fittings, lets them know what day they need to be where. Um, preps them for any sort of information that they would need in order to be there on that day. Um, and then believe it or not, people show up to set and shoot a movie. And then the movie is made. It’s unreal to me even now, even still, I still work on projects and I, I go to a screening of the film or the TV show and I’m like, they made this movie or this tv show, like it happened
That got done. That was headshots on the floor. And now it is a movie.
Yes. And even like specifically for a project like In the Heights where we did do a massive open call and found a whole bunch of actor, actors and dancers that we never would have met coming from an agency just specifically because they didn’t have representation to see them on screen in a trailer or in the film. You’re like, this was a person who just showed up to this audition and he’s now in this movie, it’s unbelievable. It’s so it’s so cool and rewarding.
Let’s dig in a little deeper on that. That’s one thing I think was really unique about In the Heights is our efforts to be as inclusive and true to the story and the culture and the time as possible. And I do think we made opportunities available in ways that maybe traditionally aren’t, um, you know, in other film projects, it’s probably standard for a casting director to call the talent agency. The talent agency sends their top five that might be a good fit. And then, then some, one of those five gets the job. But what about the people who don’t have representation? What about the people who aren’t uh, uh, the top five? We really had several opportunities for people without representation, people without having done a film or a TV show or an any show. I, I think that this project was very inclusive. I think that this project gave the floor to a lot of people who either haven’t seen it in a long time or aren’t used to taking the floor. Broadway has a nickname, um, the great White Way. And I can understand why, I do think that that’s changing. Um, but I can imagine that the casting directors are feeling a lot of that heat because a lot of people think that it is the casting director’s choice. You just highlighted that the casting director serves the creative team, it comes back to the creative’s decision. Um, do you feel in your role heat from Broadway and film entertainment, not being inclusive enough?
I have been lucky in, in my personal trajectory that I have worked on so many different projects that have started that very first conversation with let’s find the best person. It doesn’t have to be a specific person. Let’s find the best person, especially in regards to something like In the Heights where all we were looking for were people who would perfectly and realistically portray this very real story and this very real community. And I think that these creative teams and everyone in the industry has just tried to go the easiest route. And that’s why we end up in the place that we are instead of digging deeper and finding these underrepresented communities and trying to give opportunity to these people. Like we said, who have no representation who probably honestly never thought in their lifetime, they would even be in a major feature film. I think that that’s one of the main things that we, again collaboratively did together on this project. And I think it’s something that once you do it one time, you know, that it’s possible.
I might also add not only do you find that it’s possible, but you find that it’s worth it, especially on a project like In the Heights, which is about your dreams, it is about living your dreams, but more so it’s about fighting for them. It’s like the themes of this film are the themes of today. And I think it would have been a shame to watch that watch the leading roles and the supporting roles to watch the dance, to watch all of it, be danced by people who live on the silver screen and eat from a silver spoon. It just would have so missed the mark. Um, and what I experienced in working with people who have never been on set before, um, and working with people who are aren’t SAG card holders was not that it was a hot mess of disorganization and not that there was unprofessional, um, behavior on set, but actually quite the opposite, extreme respect, extreme enthusiasm, readiness, willingness. And I think that we’ll see in the, in the, uh, in the final cut how important it is to have representation, inclusivity, authenticity, especially when you’re, when you’re telling a story like that one.
Absolutely. And I started, I love that you used the word authenticity because In the Heights specifically means so much to so many people because it was something that they could see and see themselves on that Broadway stage, which is what we’re doing in the film now as well. It’s showing so many kids from Washington Heights itself that they can be a movie one day that they can be dancers in a film. They can have speaking roles. And if I’m that, it’s all doable.
I am wondering what are the things, the changes that you’ve noticed in your industry in the last handful of years and what do you hope to see in the next handful of years?
Yes. Um, something that I’ve seen, which again goes back to something we talked about a little earlier, is this idea of who else is out there. I think that’s always existed in our industry and we always, casting people specifically, like you’re never satisfied until you know, that you, until you see that electricity in front of that camera and you know, that that person is it, you know. How much more are we going to do to find that person? And what more are we going to do to find that person.
Leave no rock unturned?
Yes. Or just again, like we were saying re-inventing and thinking of things a different way. I mean, Ali Stroker who won the Tony for Oklahoma, um, that’s it, it’s just unbelievable to see Ali Stroker who we have auditioned for years. Like finally be raised up to this pedestal and be like, this is someone who is so talented and so worthy. And I also feel like that’s something we can do even more with underrepresented communities, um, with Latino communities, with Asian communities, with the black community. I think that those are so important and it’s something that maybe we produce more content that centers around these communities. Um, but I think it’s something that, that the, that the industry is in this moment focused on. And I hope that they continue to focus on that
All different levels, right? Like on the talent, of course, yes. Like the onscreen representation, but also behind the curtain, the writers, as you mentioned, producers, but on Broadway also, literally the people behind the curtain
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And it’s something that I’ve discussed with a couple of people around my age, how we were all so lucky to end up where we are, because we were able to go places and intern for free and be able to be financially supported to do that where so many people aren’t able to, and that’s why they’re not able to break into the industry because they didn’t have those same opportunities that we had. And we have to find ways to be able to reach those people and allow them the same opportunities that we’ve all had. I think that’s another thing that the industry is really focusing on now is how can we bring people who don’t have the same opportunities that we’ve had into not just in front of the camera or on the stage, but into the costume shops, into the casting offices, into the tech sides of the industry, into the stage management offices, all of those different facets that the, the, the audiences don’t see, but surely exist and drive that product. And that product would never happen without those people. I mean, I, my family is Cuban and I’m so I’m so lucky to be where I am, So I could have been supported by my family. And I told my parents, I wanted to be a casting director. They didn’t know what that was, but they said, yeah, sure, go for it. Why not? Um, and it’s so important and so exciting to see other Latino people in the industry and be like, Oh my God, yes. Like, you know, it’s happening, we’re doing it. Um, it’s something that’s so spotlighted right now. And I think that once, like I mentioned before, once we, and we have started, once we continue to really drive that car forward, we’re never going to look back. We’re going to be like, this was the way we need to continue. And this is the way that we’re going to continue.
Yes. I’m just like, I wish that everybody could see me. I’m just like nodding perpetually nodding in agreement. Um, so it sounds like you are glad to see the, that casting directors and casting offices are doing more outreach, doing more in terms of going out and finding, but what would you say to somebody that might be listening that wants to be found? What would, what would you say to somebody who believes that they are talented and out there and don’t want to wait for you to come find them?
Right. Um, we’re lucky enough to be in the age of the internet and the internet has been just, I, I, I don’t know how people lived without the internet truly. Um, number one, I think actors, I think dancers are just the most gracious people because to get up every single morning and go to auditions and put yourself on the line every single time, I think that that is more commendable and more brave than I could ever be. Um, and I think that, that goes for the same, for the same people that you were describing, go to these open calls, we are looking, and we are paying attention. If you, if you see something about a video submission, take the time and make the best video that you can make and submit, do these things to put yourself out there and get yourself in front of all of these people who are looking for you because we are, um, and don’t be afraid to do it. I feel like there’s so, like, what’s the worst that could happen. You send the video and you don’t hear anything. At least you sent the video, you would never hear anything. If you didn’t send the video at all, you know, um, it’s it’s and again, it’s tried and true. We cast people from open calls. Like we said, so many of those people in, In the Heights where people who we just, I put out an ad and said, Hey, show up at this location on this day and be ready to dance. And that was it. And they showed up and then they ended up in the movie
Where was that ad. And where do people look to find those?
So our company has that, I would say, because I help run the social media of our company. I might be biased. So we do post our stuff on, um, our social medias. Um, our, all of our handles are @Telseyandco Um, and again, we, as casting, people are very good research papers as well. So I spent two or three weeks calling every salsa studio in New York, calling all the agents and saying, Hey, do you know this person who like shot this salsa commercial one day? Um, and the agent would be like, I don’t really know them that well, but I’ll shoot them the flyer and see who they want. Um, Eddie Torres Jr. Was a huge source of finding so many organic, authentic New York dancers.
People that don’t have studios that they train out, they train in clubs. They dance socially, not in, not in little structured pods.
Exactly. Um, so there’s so much research that goes into it. Um, but again, so many of these calls are now publicized on the internet that you you’ll be able to find them and follow our social medias. And I’m sure you’ll see. I mean, if you scroll for our Twitter and our Instagram, it’s literally all just ad after ad, after ad open call for Wicked open call for In the Heights open call for third, every, every project that we’re looking for, very specific people, it happens.
Cool. Very cool. Good to know. Good to know. Um, okay. Rapid-fire burnout round. What are the things that people who book consistently consistently do in auditions?
They exude positivity. They are on time. I love people who are on time. I highlight — I highlight them highly. If they’re on time,
Yes. I love. There was such a thing. Oh, yes. Amazing. Um, and people who are open and game to do anything, I think that you can really tell that from a person in a room very, very quickly. Um, it’s also so fun to be on the sidewall, the, the choreographers and the associates and the assistants are teaching because you’re watching these people and you really, really get to know the way they work. Um, and the number one thing that I see in so many people, and I find so commendable is if they may, if they mess up, they, you, you’re not really convinced they messed up by the second count because you’re, you’re like, wait, what? Like they, they just effortlessly go over that. I think that’s something that’s. So especially about dancers. So unbelievable is that you almost think you’re like, did I just blink and miss something? Or did they mess up? Yes. Yes. Because they just keep going. And that is the number one thing, not only in a specific audition, but just in the industry, in the industry in general, you should have to keep going. You have to keep doing it and it’s going to happen if you keep doing it. And if you are being the best that you can be,
Oh, that’s such great advice. I should have ended on that. But instead, I’m going to ask what, what are the telltale signs of somebody that is not ready to be working professionally?
That’s a little bit of a hard question, because if they’re not, if they’re not ready for that specific project, like we said before, they might be ready for something else. Um, what I, rather than not ready to work. One thing that I realized in people who don’t audition the best is that they are so in their heads, that you can see the, you can see them thinking above their head. Like you see the word scrolling over their head. Where it’s, I think that, that shuts you down so much, both externally and internally that you just got to roll through it. If you are, if you’re stressed about it, if you’re not having a good time, it’s okay to walk over to the casting person and let them know, Hey, this isn’t the right one for me.
Not my best take, not my best.
Absolutely. Or let’s say perfect example, someone who does perform for the camera, we say, thank you. And they didn’t feel that good. Come on over and say, Hey, I’m so sorry. Can I just do it one more time? Like I know that I can be better. I think that knowing that and being that thinking in that space makes you so much more successful. If you don’t think in that space, I think that you just, you’re doing yourself a disservice because the only person that you’re hurting is yourself. In that regard, you have to be your, you have to think for yourself and you have to be your biggest fan. In those moments, you have to trust yourself and know that you are doing the best you can do. And if you’re not doing the best you can do, if you’re not having a good day, come on over and tell us, let us know where we are there. It’s what I always tell people. Especially when I talk to like kids in high school, who I work with, or kids who have just graduated from college, our job is to cast the project. So all we want more than anything is for you to be amazing. Like that’s, that’s all we want. We don’t want anything less than that. So if you’re not being amazing, we want to help you be amazing. Let’s figure out what it is that we can do to help you be amazing. Lets figure out what we can do to help you be amazing.
Exactly. You guys are trying to cast the project. You want to cast the project. This is great. And somebody’s performance in an audition really doesn’t have everything to do with their readiness or not to work professionally. So thank you for calling me out on that. Very gently. Um, but also thank you for the perspective of, yes, you guys want them to be the right person. So although it can be tough, I’m saying this from the performer’s point of view, to be both inside yourself, enough to deliver an impassioned performance, but outside yourself enough to have seen whether or not that was your best work, it really takes a multilevel awareness of yourself and your performance be able to say, Oh, that wasn’t it. Let me, let me ask, let my outside self ask for one more time. And then let me go back in and make the corrections that really helped me hit. And that takes time. It takes practice and it takes permission. So I’m so glad that you opened that line of communication. Like, if you feel like you need one more, come and ask, it’s one of my favorite things to do at auditions. Whether I feel like I nailed it or not. I say, alright, that’s pass number one. Is there anything else you’d like to see differently? I love to be directed. And with that statement, very simple statement, you know, Oh, this is the person who can communicate and talk about their work. Oh, this is a person that wants to deliver. Um, and Oh, this is a person that actually likes feedback because that’s another thing that I know on both sides of the table. I like working with people that are open to feedback and open to making change and getting better. It’s what film productions need and film, especially you have to do those things quickly. So if you see somebody do that in a casting, when the, when you’ve got like a 15 minute window, if they can do that in that window, imagine how much they can do in a nine hour rehearsal.
Absolutely. And again, you, you said it exactly in the event that someone does ask those questions, you see, you’re like, okay, this is someone who, who does take direction very well and who is open to direction and is collaborative in that regard. Again, it all goes back to collaboration. We all want to work with people who are collaborative because it, number one makes the project more fruitful and you never know what any single person is going to bring and how it’s going to better, any single thing that you’re doing. But also it just makes it easier. Like, of course you want to work with people who are going to be easy to work with. That’s the whole point of collaboration it’s going to be. We’re all going to click where, and like our specific example is all of us together working on In the Heights. We all were there for each other. We were all collaborative in that regard. We were all doing the work together and that’s why we have a great final product.
Okay. Kristian, final thought before we go, and this is a doozy. So take a deep breath. What are your thoughts on the shutdown on Broadway right now? And what do you think we can expect once Broadway reopens? Give me the real, Real.
I think that we can expect joyous, joyous, joyous, first curtain calls. I think that people will be just so, I mean, it’s us New Yorkers, especially it’s our, it’s our life. We go to the theater all the time. You know, it’s something that, uh, number one, it’s, it’s a lifestyle for so many of the people who are on Broadway because they are so unfortunately unemployed right now because of the shutdown. Um, what we can expect. I think that there will definitely be a lot of internal look at everyone on Broadway and how we can better the industry. Once the industry picks back up again, although we are already doing that, I firmly believe, um, I think that the industry will look different in that regard. I think we’ll be a lot more discussion regarding inclusion and collaboration and bringing so many other underrepresented communities and underrepresented people into the industry. Um, of course that takes time, but I think that people are willing to put their thoughts and finances towards that. Um, as far as what it will feel like to be in a theater again, I, I, I can’t imagine it just because it’s been so long, but I know that it’s going to be amazing and I know that we need to make it happen because number one, it’s a lifestyle for so many people. Like we said, we need this to happen so that people can survive financially. And how boring would the world be without Broadway or without entertainment at all? Not interested. It would, it wouldn’t, it would not be a good one. My friends and I used to joke when we were younger. We’re like, what’s more important than Broadway, as a joke, of course, now that we’re older, we all understand, but it’s true. What, how, how could we live in a world without any of these parts of our industry and not specifically just Broadway, just TV and film and how all of these films are so delayed now because of the shutdown. And it’s like us, for example, again, I keep going back to us, but we thought the movie that we saw would have been out for a month today, and now it’s another year. You know, I think, I think it’s gonna be a very interesting world to go back to, but I think it will be a more open and more thoughtful world than it was before the shutdown.
It’s a beautiful way to wrap it up. I truly do believe that after the depression, after the recession, there is a Renaissance and I can’t think of a place better suited for that than Broadway. Because although you did mention it’s part of a New Yorker’s culture. Most of the people in the film In the Heights never saw the Broadway show In the Heights because they couldn’t afford. There are less jobs because if I’ve learned nothing, not every show on Broadway structure was built to exist forever. Maybe a new structure needs to show up probably in order to be fewer disdain. God knows what happens next. I hope it’s not enough pandemic, but I really do think, as you’ve mentioned, surveillance is a time where we get to look deep I and do the more time intensive and thought intensive work. I think that you are a person who is completely dedicated to doing that. I am working to become a person that is totally dedicated to doing that. I’m so grateful for you and getting to meet you. I think we learned a lot today. I’m so grateful that you, uh, decided to chat and share with us. Thank you so much.
Thank you. I’m so happy I could do this and I’m naturally such a fan and
Yeah, I would love to do an in the Heights exclusive super podcast someday. So perhaps we’ll get to talk again. Um, yeah. Okay, Kristian, thanks again. Have a great rest of your day
Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, theDanawilson.com/podcast finally, and most importantly now to become a words that move me member, so kickball change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody. Now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hello. Hello and welcome. Hi there I am. Dana. Welcome. If you’re new and you’re in for a treat, if you’re new and if you’re returning welcome back, you also are in for a treat. I am so excited about this episode because it is such a mixed bag, a grab bag. If you will, a surprise party, grab bag of words that move me truly. Okay. Last week I had a birthday. I had my birthday to be very specific. I’m celebrating that whole birthday week as my win for this week because although it held a lot of beautiful celebration, which is obviously worth celebrating it also held a few FFTs. I became familiar with that acronym, FFT, thanks to Brené Brown’s podcast, unlocking us highly, highly recommended. Um, FFT means the adult word for freaking first time. Freaking first time, anyways, not only did I take on this week’s FFTs with 34 years of wisdom and compassion, but I felt more like my future self this week than I ever have before my future self, by the way is pretty incredible. So that is my win. All right. What is yours? What’s your win? What are you celebrating? What is going well in your world?
Take your time. Okay. Congratulations and keep winning. All right. This episode is not entirely about my birthday, but it is going to start out that way. I turned 34 on July 21st, which means I am 34 old and some days, I guess by now, now birthdays have always meant different things at different times in my life. For example, when I was young, they meant presents and parties and cake in my twenties, a birthday didn’t really mean that a particular day was special. Really. It became more about the day that everyone was available to get together for dinner and drinks and exchanges of special sentiments, really, really, truly special exchanges. I have had some remarkably special birthday gatherings in my life. Um, occasionally having a birthday was really just an excuse to do nothing. It’s my birthday. I’m going to do what I want or an excuse to, um, post a shameless selfie on Instagram, definitely guilty. Um, but this year I am making 34 years old mean that I’ve been around the sun 34 times. That’s, that’s it pretty scientific, pretty sterile, but I’m deciding to be really proud of this birthday and my 34 orbits, because I think that I’ll be a better astronaut on this next trip, around the sun than I have ever been before. And that’s because I have a better view of the world now than I have ever had before. I’m jazzed about it. I think it’s very special. Um, Oh, speaking of special, let us talk about some special things that happened on the day I was born. No, thanks to Google by the way. This is thanks to my mom who may or may not have looked up all of these special things on Google. But anyways, on my birthday, July 21st, 1986, Ronald Reagan was the president of the United States. The number one movie was Aliens the sequel to Alien getting into that. Um, the number one song was Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel. Rock on and also kind of cool is that my mom was also 34 on that day. Kind of a, kind of a special, full circle thing. Um, now I do just have to share one more thing that my mom said was the most special thing about that day. And I think it’d be better to let her say it herself. Check this out.
Stefani Wilson: The most special thing about that day is that you came into it. You who like, I didn’t know to think of you as something other than a baby. I wish I had known to think of you as this human being that you are now. That’s really who was born that day. You brought so much joy and happiness to so many people. I’m proud of you. And I love you.Happy Birthday Sweetheart
Okay. People go with me here because I just had a serious moment. My mom said, I didn’t think to think of you as anything other than a baby. I wish I had known to think of you as this remarkable human being that you are today. I was just rocked by this idea because any time that I have ever met a baby, which is other people’s babies, obviously I do not have my own baby. I mostly just marvel at how small and perfect they are. I’m shocked that all of the things are in the right place. And they’re just so tiny, but I’m really wondering, does anyone think of their baby? Not as a baby, but as the person they’ll become, I know that actually isn’t possible because you, you know, that requires being able to tell the future at very very least it requires a tremendous amount of imagination to even try. But does that even happen? Like when you have a baby, do you think of that baby as an adult? Or do you think of that baby as a baby? Mind Absolutely blown. So scraping myself off the floor. What I’ve learned from this message from my mom is that, um, she thinks I’m very special. Uh, I’ve also learned that I am a person that screamed and cried for the very first, but not the last time on July 21st, 1986. My mom was also 34 when I was born and I am 34 today. Okay. What else though? Like what else does it actually mean to be 34? Well, guys, I Googled it and in my very sophisticated and very systematic research, I read that on average 34 is the happiest year of our lives. Is that nuts? This is the year when people generally start checking off the big boxes, you know, the big life boxes like, get married, have kids, find stability, make real grownup money. Okay. It is safe to say that that research was obviously not conducted during 2020. I can count almost a full hand of postponed weddings this year. I have also heard, um, funny cause it’s true type of statements about the only kids being conceived during quarantine will likely be first children to their parents because parents who already have kids are homeschooling them and they are exhausted. In other words, they are not interested in making more babies, man, what a time. And speaking of the time, Corona virus, isn’t the only buzzkill of 2020 this year, this July 21st, 2020 celebration means something different to me than it ever has before to put it very simply instead of celebrating a happy birthday this year, I celebrated a human birthday, happy and sad, heavy and hopeful all at once. I am calling it my multi birthday and wow. So multi it was, this episode is my multi birthday gift to myself. And it was carefully designed so that it could be shared and be special to all of you for my birthday this year, I asked some of my favorite movers and shakers. And by the way, those are not exclusively dancers, I want to point out, for words of encouragement or their guiding principles. A favorite quote or a lesson learned or mantra. Um, some, some golden idea that’s golden in their life and in their work because man, if knowledge is power, then I truly cannot think of a greater gift than these power nuggets of knowledge. So birthday or not come back to this episode when you’re looking for something to celebrate, come back to this episode when you’re looking for power. Oh, and if power is something that you are looking for, I highly recommend the first 38 seconds of Sledgehammer by Peter Gabriel. Those seconds in and of themselves are worthy of that number one slot. So please be my guest, have that gift. Enjoy these words and enjoy a very special birthday to me followed by the specialist outro song by the one and only Jermaine Spivey enjoy everybody.
Marty Kudelka:What up y’all Marty Kudelka checking in team roast. We sizzle the most, you know how we do and the words that move me the most are “Work smarter, not harder.” And the reason why is because I found I do my best work like that. So that’s, what’s up.
Megan Lawson: I’m Megan Lawson also known as Curious Carol, if you didn’t know, and that feels like a prevalent nickname when talking about words that move me, this is Big Magic creative Bible of mine by Elizabeth Gilbert. And uh, one of the things that really resonates with me is to “live a life driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.” Copy that.
Jillian Meyers: Hello, movers makers, doers listening in my name is Jillian Myers and a phrase that is very important to me. A bit of a guiding star in a creative process is one that I procured from the sidewalk. I’ll just roll. It was written in sidewalk chalk. And because of that, I don’t know the author, but it is very important to me and simple. And it goes a little something like this “Make what makes you feel” it’s true and it’s good.
Ava Bernstine-Mitchell: Hi, I’m Ava Flav . And the words that move me are your gifts are not just meant for you. They’re meant to be given away. You are blessed to be a blessing.
Reshma: If you’d like to introduce yourself,
Miles: My name is Miles Crawford
Reshma: I’m Reshma Gajjar, Miles. Do you have some wisdom to share?
I do. I’m glad you asked. If you want to go fast, go alone. If you wanna go really fast? Go alone. But if you want to go far go together.
This morsel of wisdom, I’m still trying to figure out. He literally said this to me like two days ago, because I’m still trying to go fast alone. Apparently it’s really embarrassing, but yes, if you want to go far go together. That’s what he said. Mine has been really hard for me to choose because there’s just so many, so many guiding things in my life. But I do have to say the thing that really shows up constantly is to “trust in divine timing.” I feel like we here, timing is everything. And, um, it is, and I think there’s only so much we have control over. That’s all we can do is control what we can, but to, to have faith and to actually trust and surrender and divine timing to actually do that versus intellectually know that timing is everything. That’s been a big one for me.
But on that note, as far as big ones, I got a big surprise for you. The ultimate nugget of wisdom offerings. My mom, mom.
Renuka Gajjar: Yeah, I, hi, Dana. What I learned is that I cannot be a fast. Everything I do is gonna take time, but I don’t care. I just realized that never stop learning. And I think more, I try. More I learn doesn’t matter. It takes me a long time because all I hear is nothing but time. Okay. So yeah, this is true.
Reshma: There is no such thing as time. Time doesn’t exist in calendar. Apparently just like our age. I said that somebody, somebody very wise said that to me once, if the time doesn’t exist in a calendar, we are timeless. Happy birthday. We love you so much.
Liana Blackburn: Hello, Liana Blackburn here. The words that move me are “I am completely committed yet on attached” To me, this phrase means that I can be completely committed to my relationships, my passions, my jobs, my loves, and also unattached from results, expectations or anything that I think should be offered to me in return. From that commitment, I am completely committed yet un attached.
Nicholas Palmquist: Hi, my name is Nicholas Palmquist and a word that moves me right now, I’d have to say is curiosity. Uh, I want to have this personal desire to learn more about something and to better understand it because, um, I’m literally curious about it. I just want to know. And I think the more you want to know about something, the more you’ll investigate it and that will lead it to, um, being connected to all of these other things that you also learn about. So that’s really, what’s driving me these days, curiosity.
Lisette Bustamante: Hello. My name is Lisette Bustamante And the words that move me are “When everyone seems to be swimming upstream, go ahead and flow downstream” because, uh, I’ve learned over the years that when you try to work against the current, um, it just feels like you’re struggling to move. And so I sit back, put my behind my head and I swim and flow downstream and let go, let go of trying to be in control of things.
Ryan Walker Page: Hi Dana happy birthday. I’m weighing in on the request to let you know words that have guided, supported, inspired me that maybe like still hold a lot of rank in my life. Uh, for me, what first comes up is developmental psychology sort of falls off after the age of 26. So there in lies, this sort of like moot point of like, Oh, do we stop developing? Surely that can’t be true. And so this guy Robert Keegan’s swooped in and was like, um, basically created the architecture for something called adult development. And um, he boils it down to this idea of like one’s ability to hold complexity. Um, so can you coordinate multiple perspectives? Can you walk with contradiction? Like what is your bandwidth, um, in and for life? And so he like puts it in this imagery. This is like the ODA Twilight version of it or sure. But the first stage is that you are like swimming in this water and the water is like the beliefs attitudes that you inherited that you have, like not yet questions. Then the next stage is when that water starts to drain, uh, which can be like very lonely and empowering. And actually those things know each other and you find this rock. So you’re like out of the water and onto the rock and the rock is firm and clear and bold and you have sight and ability to look at what was in relationship to maybe what you want. And so that rock represents what you want and this sort of like quest to author your own experience. The next stage, according to this guy is after you’ve like, um, positioned this rock as a lifeline and are sure about it and see where you were and can dive into that water when you want, but also sort of take a satellite view to it. You realize the rock has been a beach ball and it’s like a profound beach ball, cause it’s like the beach ball of your life. But, um, the beach ball yields and the beach ball plays and the beach ball has more of like a dancing choreography than a rock. You basically gain like a more robust emotional profile where like grief, um, can be cut with joy can be cut with loss, can be cut with humor. And these sort of like defined boundaried categories, but between things softens and it sort of like opens up the dance floor of your mind and your experience of life. And, um, I love that this imagery treats play as, as important as maybe the heavy blows of life and, um, finding a mental space that can coordinate and house and like, uh, integrate all of those things. It just feels so expansive and believable. Um, happy birthday. That’s my thing. Oh and this is Ryan Walker Page!
Kathryn Burns: Hi, it’s Kathryn Burns. And the words that move me are do unto others as you would have them do unto you the golden role Simple, Sweet, stay kind.
Dom Kelley: Okay. Hi, my name is Dominique Kelly and the words that moved me are just be better.
Chonique: Hey this is Chonique and the words that move me are “They tell me life is a marathon and I hope I brought the right shoes” And that’s because life is a marathon its not a sprint its not a destination its a journey and just having the tools that you need daily for the present moment is the only thing that’s going to get you to move to the next thing. So, that’s what I believe, that’s what I move by, and I love you Dana, Happy Birthday!
Spenser Theberge: Hi, it’s Spenser Theberge, and the words that move me are “Learning is like a feedback loop. Remember to look outside of yourself as much as you look inside.”
Nina McNeely: This is Nina McNeely. And the words that moved me are “to compare is to despair” Love you cream cheese, Danish.
Poppin’ Pete: Hey, what’s up? Dana, Poppin’ Pete here. Um, my cool mantra is “keep going, keep growing and keep it funky.” And what keeps me moving is the absolute love of the dance. The very first time I saw poppin’ or anything, um, I fell in love with it and I carried the love of the dance respecting that. And that keeps me going. That’s why I’ve been around for 42 years. Peace and love. Happy birthday, Dana. Yeah.
Chloe Arnold: Hi, this is Chloe Arnold’s. I want to wish the happiest birthday to my dear friend and sister Dana Wilson. I love you. I support you. I think you’re absolutely brilliant on and off the dance floor and words that move me. Wow. Words that move me. Well, words that move you words that move us. Uh, things that I like to think about are to remember, to imagine it, to dream it, to work hard, to achieve it and to share it and then repeat. So I hope those words move you and I love you so much, sister, friend, and I can’t wait to see you soon.
Tom Sachs: Hi, this is Tom Sachs, happy birthday. Um, it’s been four years since we’ve met your, my first internet friend. You’re the first person I met, um, through the device. And so I’ll never forget, uh, that in our times in San Francisco, learning to backslide and an operate the table saw in the maker space. Um, have a great birthday continue, please, to be brave with your desire and never ever, ever give up. You’re a leader. We all look to you for strength. So these tough times. Please stay focused. Love you.
Emma Portner: Hello. This is Emma Portner live from my bed. Some words that move me are, “if I’m not tt thank you for letting me know,” happy birthday, Dana, I love you so much. I’m the podcast biggest fan. And, uh, I’ve listened to it all over the world. And it’s always brought me a sense of, um, familiarity at the same time as challenging me, which I really, really love. Um, and that’s all I have to say right now, but happy birthday, Dayna,
Toni Basil: Happy birthday, Tony basil here. Keyed. My words don’t stop. Oh, no. Don’t stop. Or the rehearsal gods will never forgive you and you can’t get them back. You cannot get them back to
Jermaine Spivey: *Sings with the voice of an angel*
Dana: Wow I really don’t want to make a sound after that beautiful birthday salute. Thank you Jermaine Spivey. How is it possible that you sound as sweet as you move. I don’t get it! Maybe next year on my birthday I’ll do my cover of your birthday song to me. Thank you so much Jermaine, and thank you everybody for your birthday wishes. Thank you so much movers and shakers that I look to for words to move me. And thank you all of you for listening, for being here with me in celebration of my 34th trip around the sun. You know what to do now, Keep it funky.
Intro: This is words that move me. The podcast were movers and shakers. Like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: All right. All right. Hello everybody. And welcome to words that move me. I’m Dana. I am so jazzed about this episode, and I know that I always say that, but really this one is special. It is special because my guests are special, so special. It is special because I learned so much about myself, about my craft, about my relationship to the world that I’m living in right now. Um, and I also learned a lot more about audio editing. So here comes the heads up. The audio quality is not the greatest on this episode, but the, every other quality is the greatest. So this episode is my win for the week. Your turn, what’s going well in your world. Let’s see if I can keep tempo.
Yes. Good for you. I’m so glad that you’re winning. Keep it up and celebrate yourself. It’s so important. Okay. Now I don’t want to take too much more time before I invite you to the table. Well, the zoom, I guess, with my guests today, Spenser Theberge is originally from Portland, Julliard Grad danced for NDT two and NDT one that’s Netherlands Dance Theater for you, non dance types. Um, the Forsythe company, he’s the winner of the Princess Grace Award. He currently teaches for Cal arts. Um, but most importantly, I want to tell you that his choreography makes me weep tears of laughter and also tears of a very special brand of admiration. He is a truly special artist and I am so honored and flattered to call him to call both of these gentlemen, my friends. All right. So up next, we have the one and only Jermaine Spivey He is from Baltimore, also a Julliard grad. Also a Princess Grace winner also has danced for all of the, that I oogle and all of the companies that you should Google. Um, he is currently teaching for USC Kaufman, but beyond all of those things, I can not think of a single thing, more mesmerizing in this world than watching Jermaine dance. That was at least until we had this conversation. And I learned that it is equally mesmerizing to dig in to words with him, with him and with Spenser, both truly mesmerizing. Um, this conversation simply blows my mind wide open. So without any further ado, please enjoy this conversation with Jermaine Spivey and Spenser Theberge
Dana: Spencer and Jermaine. Holy smokes. Thank you so much for joining me today on the podcast. I am thrilled to have you! Welcome.
BOTH: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Dana: Um, this is kind of par for the course. This is sort of how I do it on the pod. Please introduce yourself.
Jermaine: Um, okay. I will introduce myself. My name is Jermaine Spivey. I am an artist. I’m a performing artist. I am a choreographer. I am an educator. I am a learner. I am a person in this world that um, loves to create. And connect to people through that creativity.
Dana: Thats a beautiful introduction. Thank you. Nice to meet you. Alright, Spenser hit it.
Spenser: I’m Spenser Theberge. And that is how you say my last name.
Dana: I’ve been saying it wrong for like four years now.
Spenser: Yes, it’s true. I am Spencer Theberge. Uh, I also echo what Jermaine says. I am an artist. I work in, I work in dance, but I don’t feel like I only live in dance. I am excited by interdisciplinary things. I’m interested in collaborations and the permeable worlds in terms of art and genres. Um, I teach. I dance, uh, and I’m also, Jermaine and I are partners. And we’re partners also in the work we’re making too.
Dana: You Guys. This is the first time I’m having a couple on the podcast. I’m so jazzed about this. Okay. Um, thank you for your introductions. I have a million questions for you. About your work and what it’s like to collaborate with your significant other and what it is to be in an interracial Relationship in the summer of 2020 and how the black lives matter movement is impacting you and how are you impacting it and what it means to be like, Whoa, all the things I have, all the questions. So slow down, Wilson. Um, let me simplify and ask you.
Jermaine: There’s a lot. It’s a lot.
Um, let me just simplify and ask you to tell me something you would like for people to know about your relationship. Or is it top secret?
Jermaine: Oh, no, I think, yeah. Okay. I’m gonna start that off. I think I would like people to know that it is, it’s a constant effort and I don’t mean that in a negative way. It’s actually very positive that its constant effort, but constantly trying to see each other for who we are and how we’re evolving and how we do that together. How we do that side by side, I really, really, really don’t respond to the idea of, you know, you meet someone and its the same and that is happily ever after, like, you’re the same person I met and it’s like, yes, I am a version of that person, but I’m also hopefully changing and growing and evolving the entire time and definitely tries to do that next to the person that I love. We’re next to each other we’re with each other. We’re changing. Okay. Talking about summer of 2020
Dana: Change baby change.
Jermaine: We’re both changed from how we started this year.
Spenser: I would also add or piggyback then say that, um, there’s the idea that we’re always partners. It’s not like we are, we are. And then what I mean by that is our relationship as partners. We’re always doing that. We’re doing that when we’re making work together, we’re doing that when we’re making breakfast together, we’re doing that when Jermaine’s on a tour and I’m home, and we’re not physically together. We’re always partners. Sometimes I think that there’s, um, you know, the compartmentalizing idea of we, you’re not, we’re not in our relationship when we’re making work together. For instance, like once we entered this room, it’s a different, it’s a different story or something. And that’s not the case with us. We very much are always exploring and interrogating, but our relationship feeds and that’s the art we make as well. Uh, and I think that we hope that our art changes and develops over time. And so why don’t, why not treat ourselves like that too, that we can change and develop over time.
Ah, I love that sentiment. I love the idea of perpetual evolution and, uh, specifically hopefully progress, right. Um, also Jermaine I’m so glad you brought up effort. And that is what I would like to segue with into this next part of the conversation. So I think it was after, and we can go back a little bit to our history as friends in a second, but I think it was after Gen Four, which was certainly the most, um, amount of time I spent with you guys like period. But I think after Gen Four, um, I dug into a search for more of you both because after that week of watching you dance, I just could not sate myself. So I was just looking for more. And I remember stumbling upon, um, short film that was directed by Dana Casperson and it’s part of her, um, changing the conversation book. I think she made little chunks from her book, changing the conversation, the 17 principles of conflict resolution. And, um, I was so delighted by this thing. Uh, and then I dug more on Dana and I became so delighted by her. Uh, she says that conflict is the origin of all creative action, which is like the smarter older sibling version of my saying, which is creativity is simply problem solving. But she, she says that conflict is inevitable and she adds that destructive conflict is not inevitable. That’s the choice part. Um, she, she explains describing nondestructive conflict as just dynamic tension. Effort. And to me that sounds kinda like fun dynamic tension reminds me of a first date or of like the early years of a relationship. Dynamic tension, sounds like, Oh, I like that versus conflict is something that I think is, is kind of has this negative connotation. Um, but, uh, one of the things I like most about you guys, both in your life, in, in your work is that you don’t avoid conflict or effort, um, or tension. Actually, I would say that you guys are both masters of tension and release of tension. Spenser, you do it with humor Jermaine, you do it with your body. Um, could you guys talk about how you use tension in your work and in your relationship?
Spenser: Woah, Dana, thank you. I love that. That’s some something you’re observing because it’s, we talk about conflicts all the time and it is really at the heart of our creations. It’s also at the heart of the process of creating. Um, we get along really well. We disagree, I wouldn’t say we fight.
Jermaine: Maybe once in 10 years have we fought.
Um, however, we’re both really, um, we really believe what we believe and we really care about the things that we believe in and those things are, are often at odds and that doesn’t feel good, but it’s sort of like a thank goodness type thing, because, uh, what I want to relate it to is this idea that you have to have conflict in order to have good theater. Otherwise the curtain goes up and maybe somebody proposes to the other person. And that person says yes, and then it’s over, there’s no conflict and the curtain goes down and it ends. And so there’s the thought that if you want something to be sustainable, if you want, and I’m talking now in a performative way, if you want to sustain interests for the audience, there’s gotta be conflicts there for people to have a hook, so we lean into the conflict. Um, and since our work is usually a kind of lens into our, into our relationship as partners, we then lean into the inherent conflicts between each other, um, and allow them to be present in the work. So that the work can sustain yeah, it’s a belief. I mean, if it feels like a belief, like a value for making work to me is this idea of conflict. So I love that you see it and that you’re aware of it.
100%. Um, do you have anything you want to add, Jay?
Um, I’m just listening to, I feel like conflict is also about diversity and, uh, it’s about opposition. Uh, I think we’re realizing right now in this moment that we can’t continue to curate this weird streamlined version of reality where there aren’t, there’s no diversity, right? Like where we, force people to conform to be the same, where we force people to have the same values and the same way of expressing these values, it’s not realistic.
And there’s no opposition, there’s no opposition. And we know because we’re dancers, who’ve done pirouettes before that you cannot lift up without also pushing down. You won’t have a successful rotation if you don’t do both. Um, this is what I’m inspired by right now is this idea. And I know it’s very self-gratifying, but it’s this idea that dancers just might be the best people to deal with and lead in a time like this because we have understanding and the ability to think kind of physically and know the importance of something like opposition. Know, the importance of something like spacing, for example. But I just, I, I would love to hear a little bit more from you guys on what some other dancer or choreographer characteristics might be helpful right now to, to all, not just to dance types.
Spacial awareness is the first thing that came to mind, um, is not just about avoiding bumping into people on the street. It’s about space. It’s about an understanding of how to occupy space, not just how to leve room for other people. Which is something from the conversation in our way of life here in the US, created a lot of extremes and not so much space or room for people to exist in. And I think that it is work.
Actually, I think we experienced that in the dance world was maybe we’ll have a chance to kind of get into a little bit more, uh, later, but this idea of where you exist inside of the dance world, and things sometimes not. I mean, sometimes for a lot of people, it’s always feeling like there’s, there is no intersection or blending of worlds and experiences. And I’m also thinking about blending of forms and blending of techniques. But, um, I’d like to first, before getting into that talk about also, I think dance has the ability to help us train an idea of empathy. I was just thinking about a rehearsal Jermaine and I had the other day where we were doing some partnering and I needed to know what something’s felt like for him in order to do my job for him to help him. So I, he had me do it, do his role, so I could feel what it felt like in his body. And then I knew better. It didn’t change instantly, but I had a better ability to make a helpful choice for him as a partner. And that made me feel like what we’re actually doing is training that thing we’re trying to talk about right now, which is, this is how this feels for me. Can you hear me say that? Like, can you put that on, this is how this feels for me. And, and we do that sometimes without even knowing that that’s unusual for some people in their world and in their life. And right now, since I’ve been teaching a lot online and, you know, theoretically everyone’s alone in their kitchen, like I am, teaching, right. And so I’m trying to still figure out how to teach this idea or promote this idea of empathy. And I think we can relate to ourselves in our own bodies, empathetically as well, and have that same process of like, what does that feel like for you knees? And then if I’m, if I’m fostering a sense of empathy in my own body, isn’t it then? Couldn’t it then be easier to be empathetic with the wider world.
Okay. Pause for the cause and let that sink in for a second. All right. In episode three, with Chloe Arnold, we talked about how dance lessons are life lessons. We talked about all of the different ways that dance has prepared us for life, and we dug pretty deep. Um, I highly suggest you go back and check that out if you haven’t already, or maybe even revisit that one, if it’s been awhile, but even in all of that discussion with Chloe, it had never dawned on me that perhaps the most important and powerful and dare I say essential human quality, empathy can be practiced physically through dance. This was a massive a-ha moment for me. I, I danced as a swing on my most recent world tour. And, uh, for those of you that don’t know a swing is somebody that knows and must be able to dance anyone in the shows track, um, a track just means their part, I guess. So for that show for the man of the woods tour, I learned all of the ladies and even took it upon myself to learn my male counterpart dancers tracks. Um, and it was my job to jump in for anybody in the event that they needed me to fill in. And man, wow. If it is recommended to walk a mile in somebody else’s shoes, I highly recommend that you try dancing in them. I gained a tremendous understanding and appreciation for my fellow dancers by learning their show, by dancing in their shoes. I did wear my own shoes, but that’s neither here nor there. I think that perhaps the best part of what I’m learning from this conversation and from what Spenser is saying is that learning and appreciating can happen for me in me, like having empathy for parts of myself. Wow. Just Whoa. Okay. I had to jump out and highlight that and sort of plant a seed. So that next time you find yourself in conflict with yourself or with someone else, you might find an opportunity to practice empathy. Okay. That’s it let’s jump back in.
Jermaine: Yes. I can still connect and you know, physically partner with this person that doesn’t weigh the same as I do that has a different shape than I do that. That comes from a different understanding of dance in terms of their background than I do, but we can meet, we figure it out. I mean, that’s what happens. It happens again all the time. In a company its a whole new group of people, and you start that process all over again. And just thinking about how many times, whether it’s a company in a gig or in a shoot, you meet these people may never see again, but you have to come together for the common goal. We’re so versed at that. It can be bumpy along the way. It’s not always great. It’s not always whatever perfect supposed to mean, but I think that’s also the point.
Those are excellent points that I really hadn’t considered the concept of actually sharing weight and feeling feelings of, you know, trading roles. Like we do that in dance. I will dance your role. I will try to be your track. Um, I’ll try to lift you the way that you lift me in that lift. Like I can’t think of a, of a better way to practice empathy. Um, but also this idea that we are basically constantly, uh, building and then breaking down and then rebuilding new teams with different objectives. And that is such an important skill to have. I think dancers are really, really good at being quick to volunteer, quick to make changes, quick to make friends. And part of that is the nature of how quickly our world and our creative processes work, especially here in LA. There certainly aren’t, we, we don’t have the luxury of long rehearsal processes for most projects. And I mean, no rehearsal process now. No in-person rehearsal process now. So yeah, we we’ve gotten very good at doing certain things. Um, what are we not good at?
Well, we’re not always good at recognizing individual contributions to the mess. I feel like I’ve.. I’ve been a performer in a contemporary concert dance company and I’ve been in these moments with company where we’re complaining and we’re like, this is happening. And this is happening, this company sucks. Everybody gets under this company sucks train. And it’s like, we’re the company, you know? I mean, yes, there is an administrative body that is governing
The situation, but also we actually have a lot more say on the dynamics of how things go than we think. there’s something in structure. There’s something in the way a lot of things organize that causes us to forget that. I mean, every company that I’ve ever been a part of with the exception of maybe one has had like really rocky shit and again, that’s not a dig it’s layered, right? I think that’s something that happens because there’s many different aspects to running a company. And then of course the dancers feel the brunt of that, but then we can get caught in just complaining about it and just suffering in and that becomes our story. Like I’m just suffering this situation and this is how it has to be, woe is me, I’m a dancer. And then at some point you have to realize other things that I can do. And other ways that I find to this situation that will change me, and usually If I change myself that is reflected in the person next to me and the person next to them.
I would like to talk a little bit more about voice specifically. You’ve used it in your work in a way that I think is very attractive, but I know that for a lot of dancers using our voice, like our actual vocal chords is terrifying. I’ll speak for myself as for one. Um, could you guys share maybe a story of, of being asked to use your voice or maybe why you, why you love to use voice?
Yeah. I’d love to talk about that. I, I think a bit of context is helpful and to know that I grew up, um, like equal parts. I was training at a dance studio, uh, after school, but in school I was training in theater. I was a drama kid, and I was really, really torn between these two worlds. And I felt a lot of angst, of like this having to make a choice. And I ultimately chose dance because I love it. It wasn’t like depression or anything. I, I knew dance in my body and I didn’t know theater in my body if that makes sense, so I followed it, but I definitely felt like I’ve made a choice and closed a pathway, closed some kind of world in myself. And it wasn’t until I moved to Europe and I was working on a creation with the choreographer at Netherlands dance theater. And I was, I was asked to use my voice and I was sort of, Oh, I know that person, that’s that person from high school, like who knows, how to use their voice and who loves to speak and has this sense of theater and drama. And it was like inviting a part of myself to the party who hadn’t got to be at the party for like 10 years. And from that point on, that was it. I was, I was like, if I’m not getting to explore all of me, I’m just not sure if I’m that interested. And sometimes it feels right to make the choice to just dance. But there’s a difference between saying you can only dance. And right now you’re just dancing. Versus like, just knowing that it’s always, like, I always have the ability to use my voice if that’s the right choice for this particular communication right now, or to, I don’t know, sing, or make a dress or dance, or like get behind this camera and operate this projector or whatever, like whatever the moment calls for. I want to feel like I am allowed and have permission to, to deliver that. And that feels like, that feels like pursuit of, of me, to me.
That’s awesome. I love the, the 360 degree approach to making. Um, I also love the, the concept of giving permission to use voice. And when you said that, I realized that, um, I would say like fully 50% of my professional work is me lip-syncing to something, but you, you cannot be lip syncing because it looks like, you know, your, your neck, your muscles aren’t working, you can tell somebody lip-syncing. So even on the projects where I’m lip syncing, they ask you to sing out. And as I say so to me, that’s permission, right? You’re playing a track at volume. That’s not my voice. They, they, they, they won’t hear my voice. Maybe. I don’t know. They probably have a microphone hidden somewhere, but to me, that’s permission to sing out. And I, I wonder if that metaphor kind of breaks the part of this conversation. That’s important to me, which is it being your voice, but, um, Jermaine specifically, I’m curious what you’d have to say about this, because now that I’m talking about lip sinking, I’m remembering that maybe my favorite performance of yours is Kid Pivot’s Betroffenheit, your, your lip syncing, right? Is that your voice? Are you, are you lip-syncing?
Jermaine: I’m lip-syncing. You never hear my voice in the entire show
Spenser: That’s embodiment
That’s Embodiment. You could not tell me that’s not your voice. It’s okay. So just straight up curiosity, what was your approach to making somebody’s voice? That’s not your voice look like your voice.
Jermaine: Um, that is a good question. It was, it was a few different things. It’s the physicality of just the steps in the way that, uh, you know, with Crystal, we decided my character would, would move that movement directed the character. Then that character tells me how I need to lip-sync. Then the other level of that layer of that was listening to the track and getting familiar with the rhythm, the cadence and the timing of Jonathan speaking. And when there was breathing and wasn’t breathing. And every year that we performed the show, we peel back another layer of the audio I think when we first did it, we were not in the place where we could hear every breath, for example, that was in the audio track. And then when we came back to do it, we remounted it. We were like ‘has the breath always been there? Like I hear it differently now.’ So then the second year was really all about trying to embody now all of the breath. And then the third year was like the breath and the little crackles, you know, saliva, like when he’s opening and closing his mouth. We’ve done that also with reviser.
Uh, Jermaine. It’s so good. It’s one of my favorite things to watch. Um, I’m not sure if Marquee TV is still doing a 30 days free thing.
I will be linking to that in the show notes, please. You guys, this is mandatory viewing. Um, okay, cool. Moving right along. Um, you guys both went to Julliard. You’re both teachers you teach at the college level. And I know I have a lot of listeners out there who dream of attending prestigious schools like that and of having careers like yours. Um, what would you tell them that you wish somebody had told you when you embarked on your journey of higher education?
Yeah. Something comes in mind for me instantly. And I remember, I think it’s so, so important and so wonderful and so necessary to have goals. But what I remember is that I had tunnel vision with my goals, especially going into college and through college, into, into like the professional world. So my goals, um, confused me at times because they, what they did is they said this is important for your goals and this isn’t important for your goals. And so there was a bit of, I love school and I love to learn even as someone who loves to learn, um, there’s a little bit of like, I’ll need this. I won’t need this type of thing for the goals that I know, what I wish someone had told me is what I’m experiencing now and continue to experience is that you don’t know what your goals are going to be after you get a taste of maybe the goal that you’re interested in, the goals might change, they’re likely to change. And aren’t you, or maybe you will wish that you had absorbed a little bit more completely, then you did, when it was offered to you, I’ve found myself wishing often that I had taken better notes or paid more attention in a particular course, because I feel like I need it now, you know, 10 plus years later. And I just didn’t know that at the time. So that thought of hoarding information with accepting the idea that you don’t know what you’re going to be interested in. And you don’t know what you need ..
Um, will you guys play a game with me really quick? So it’s, um, full disclosure. It’s not actually a game, it’s an exercise, but we’re going to call it a game cause that’s more fun. So I have started, um, categorizing my goals now in tiers, I do these three tiers. My first tier of goals is the goals I could accomplish right now. If literally, if I just did it, like the action is the missing part, not the resources or the, um, the ideas themselves, but like right now I could accomplish this. Um, tier two is with a little bit more support, whether it’s in manpower or finance or time or whatever, with a little more support I could accomplish this. And then tier three is rip the lid off, no ceiling nobody ever would say, no, you will not hear the word. Know what? Like that’s tier three, no rules, no limits at all. So I would love to hear from you guys, three tiers of goals.
You know, I’m already, I’m already going to do the game. The game is supposed to be played.
Break the rules.
I’m am. Because It’s really, really, really layerd
Okay. Go. I want the depth.
I think I have learned from a very young age not to set goals. That has been a super power for me in my life. It hasn’t actually had a negative effect on me, but it may come from something that is a negative, which is related to being a black person in this country and my mom because I grew up with my mom in Philly, feeling sometimes like she was not supported in the way she needed to really get to that goal or just feeling like.. I just, I, I, I watched my mom do that and survive the most beautiful work. And I feel like I learned from that, life also just be about adapting and that isn’t a lack of openness or power
Or imagination. Um, well, there are many ways to choose, you know, how to organize it. And I, I don’t really set goals. Um, I know that sounds weird, but I do, I do stuff. I do stuff. And then I pay attention to how that feels and where it’s leading me there. And when I’m there I feel led to the next and that’s how my whole dance career has been. I never decided I want to go study at a conservatory. I just, I decided I liked dancing. So then I continued, I didn’t even want to dance. My mother forced me to go. Then I realized that I like it so I continued to go. Then someone was like, you should audition for this school. I knew nothing about Juilliard, but I went because I trusted that person’s opinion. But they were right. While I was at Juilliard actually, I had a teacher that was like, you should look into this place, which I did. And, you know, listening to the voices didn’t mean that I only listened to what people told me to do, I just took in that information, sometimes they were exactly right so I went with them. But sometimes it was just hearing what they had to say, to help me understand what I was feeling so that I can make my own choice intuitively. It continues to be that way. And the older I get, I feel like it’s really just about deciding to do stuff. Um, for me personally, I think people should set goals if that is how they need function and to plan ahead. But that just hasn’t really been a part of my spirit as a person. To plan ahead, It gets me into trouble in different ways because of the world that we, that we live in. But it also provides me a lot by not feeling, um, I don’t feel precious about the trajectory of my life in that way.
Would you be willing to go into what you mean when you say gets you in trouble?
Yes. I mean, in the, in the kind of like little micro versions of that, it’s like sometimes I don’t plan far enough ahead. So that I can be on time. So then I’m late, you know, and that’s, that’s like a little, little tiny version of that. Um, I think it gets me in trouble with sometimes because then with the interactions with other people, sometimes there are expectations that are not met and yes, because I think the way that I do, I understand that. And I, I see sometimes what that means for certain people in certain circumstances. But I also feel like I am not always responsible for delivering that expectation.
Full Stop. Wow. In hearing Jermaine’s point of view about setting goals, I experienced the moment that I’ve felt quite a bit lately, the shameful moment that many of my listeners out there maybe feeling lately as well. And that is the moment where your privilege is revealed to you in a place that you hadn’t noticed that before. I truly relish the goal setting practice, I called it a game. It literally is fun to me because my goal setting practice doesn’t get me in trouble. It gets me my desired results. And what I learned from Jermaine is that the accomplishment of my goals is absolutely not entirely attributable to the goal setting practice itself. I am a white, able-bodied, heterosexual woman who grew up in a middle class, suburban home with two parents who although divorced, both loved and supported me tremendously. And my life experience has taught me that dreaming big, mostly works. Someone else’s experience might teach them that dreaming big, mostly hurts. I know that now, and that doesn’t mean that setting goals is bad. And that doesn’t mean that I am bad for setting goals. It means that setting goals is not a default setting. I do think it’s important to mention that the thing that excited me and still excites me most about setting goals is that especially in that third kind of no ceilings, impossible tier something is only impossible until it’s possible. And I find tremendous inspiration and power in that. All right, let’s jump back in and hear what Jermaine, the man who seemingly defies gravity and every other law of physics in his dancing makes of doing the impossible buckle up.
For me. I respond to what if it isn’t impossible? Like what is impossible? It’s a construct for us to relate to, but it’s not really a thing. And I say that because like often when I improvise, I use tasks. And I talk about that I’m never TRYING to do something cool or impossible I’m never deciding now I’m going to do something that is anti-gravity like those things happen because I’m doing something that is really similar to me in the breakdown of all of the things I am moving my shoulder to the right and at the same time sliding my chin to the left. And if I do that and I involve my hip and my heel I miraculously made it around 4 times. I lived that experience in various ways in my life and I’m never really trying to do something impossible or spectacular.
That is, That is very important to me on the subject of effort. If we could circle back to effort, you look effortless when you dance, but it’s not because what you’re doing is easy is because you’re focusing your efforts into very specific, simple places or simple tasks that is fascinating.
And I’d like to jump in on that. As someone who gets to watch Jermaine a lot, his sense of validation is really inside himself. It’s not, it’s not bound to external sources.
And a small interjection I had to work on that because for so much of my younger life, I felt really bound to what I thought were people’s expectations of me and that it hurt. I hurt myself. No one did that to me. I did that to myself, fulfilling that expectation for everyone else. I caused myself hurt and suppression and guilt for things that I shouldn’t feel guilty for. And I don’t know, I think at some late twenties, I really started to come to terms with that.
What was the shift?
I think, I think it was it’s, it was physical and emotional. Um, I mean, they’re the same thing, but you know, it was this me on a path of diving deeper in my artistry, which pushed me to dive deeper into my person. And what, what am I expressing? What am I living, what am I doing what am I thinking? Um, it was me coming to terms really for real, with my sexuality and realizing how much of that, uh, was weighing on me in ways that I didn’t know that it was weighing on me. And through that realizing I have all of these boxes that I’m trying to fufill for other people, but I care about people that care about me, people that I need in my life. And so not only do I have the boxes, but then I also have the fear of not filling the boxes and what will they do if I don’t fill this box for them? And I’m trying to make it a long story short, I saw therapists and one was a craniosacral therapist, in Stockholm. Shout out to Banks Elmstron, My superhero, wizard, Swedish Man. He it’s very confronting to see someone that you’ve never met before and have them just read you like a book in one sitting. And, and to realize that they can do that because they’ve learned the skill of being sensitive. So he could feel these things in my body to feel them through the tissue physically, but he could also feel them energetically emotionally. And if I’m walking around with that all the time, that’s not going to be cute, down the line. So then, Hey, may, Hey, maybe there was a goal that was like my one goal, you know, it’s that to, to fix myself, like change my relationships with these expectations. He would, he would say to me like, wow, you put so much pressure on yourself. Why do you do that? And I’d be like, what, why are you saying that from holding my ankles? I don’t understand. And it wasn’t just him. I saw a few more craniosacral therapist over the years and had very similar experiences one with a person in London, with a person in Hawaii and every time it was very consistent, the things that they had to say to me very spot on, and these are people that I never met before in my life. And it was the last time in Hawaii where I was like, okay, do you, be you, live your life and your intuition. Trust that people will accept. And if they don’t, they don’t. And that has to apply to everyone.
Uh, yes, those, those boxes checked makes sense. And I, I remember coming up in dance, I actually wonder, I wonder if there’s a way to train dancers, um, that doesn’t perpetuate external validation, right. Is there a way of teaching anything that puts the authority in the hands of the students instead of any authority figure? I mean, dance specifically, I mean, I remember a very literal stick that was either, you know, it was slamming into the ground, counting the music, or it was slapping me on the back of the knee or my belly if, if I was doing something wrong. So, and you look to that person for, did I do it right? Am I enough? And that started for me when I was three and I didn’t go to college for dance, but I would imagine an institution like Juilliard, it’s that like dialed up, you’re doing that hours and hours a day for years on years on years. I don’t know how to remove that portion of, of our training process.
This is something that’s really on my mind. Um, and I’m, I know I’m not alone in that, but, um, this idea of, especially as someone who teaches ballet primarily, um, how to approach teaching ballet in a more inclusive way. And, um, you know, my, all of the readings I’ve been doing lately, um, the first thing that seems important is that you gotta name the problem and not pretend like it isn’t there. So we have to name, name the idea that Ballet is rooted in whiteness and name the idea that it is somehow, um, has been self described as this pedestal, um, this pillar of dance. And I think
That’s essential to all other dances somehow.
Yeah. Yeah. Well, there’s that, that thing that I’m sure we’ve all heard is like, if you know ballet, you can do everything or ballet is the basis of all forms. And that is, um, it’s a lie, that’s not, not a true statement. It’s true for a particular path, which is a particular path. That’s not the path. So this, I think first and foremost, we have to establish that ballet is A form of dance, not THE form of dance. And then how do you approach learning it, honoring it, without letting, without, um, allowing it, and I mean, this both as a teacher teaching it, but also as a student taking it, how do you, how do you make sure that you’re honoring it without letting it tell you that it knows something about you as a dancer, because many of us have this relationship with ballet as it being a standard of dance, then the aesthetics of ballet become a standard that I know my, my body doesn’t always accomplish. Um, my feet don’t do the thing that it’s both that they’re supposed to do for ballet, my rotation, my range of motion, all of those things. I don’t, I don’t check those boxes, but I can still honor that work and ballet and approach it, honoring my values about capital D dance, not ballet as dance, if that makes any kind of sense.
But even that is, it’s a deformation of where it came from, because it was never intended for people to rotate their feet away from each other, 180 degree or to lift your foot above your head to the 12 o’clock. That was never the intention. We applied that all of that came later, with ballet and many other genres, right? So even that thing that we’re, we’re fighting up against we have to remember that comes from people that comes from a particular person or a particular desire. And now we’re all trying to fit into that fantasy. We’re missing, we’re missing the root. Everyone can rotate their legs in some degree or fashion, because legs do that. Everyone can turn the arms in and out in general because arms do that. So it’s not about, well, your body does something, my body doesn’t do. Everybody’s bodies do exactly what they need to do.
That’s why I like to talk about turnout and experience, as opposed to, a shade. Like, it’s not a result. It’s something that you’re actively doing. And when we make things a movement, I think we allow them to be fluid as opposed to the static idea of arrival and position and aesthetic and shape. I think we get bogged down in ballet by that a lot, like moving from pose to pose. Like you heard me talk about today, how do I mean, let’s emphasize the move part moving from pose to pose instead of moving from pose. Oh, that’s right. Like, what are you emphasizing? I think it’s real important to stay curious for more information and to assume that they’re more that you don’t know, then they’re like there is that, you know, always assume that there’s more out there. However, you do know what your values are as a dancer and you know, what your values are from an early age and you can pursue those values. In any form you go into. There is not, um, like musicality coordination, organization, relationship to space, relationship to time, those things exist across dance they’re not, they don’t belong to any particular technique. So whatever you love about those things find that in whatever form you’re working on and then you’re working inclusively in your own body.
Well, I think Spencer, the other thing that you did in class today that I thought was very inclusive was, um, you talked about energetic ideas, opposed to physical explanations, physical ideas, or physical pictures of what is right and what is wrong. Um, it was very much about energetic ideas and the, the one that stuck with me and that I’ll be hearing in my head as I turn out. And as I lift, and as I oppose. Is this idea of forever. You said, turn out forever, open your back forever. Uh, root your legs forever. And it became like, this makes me emotional because it’s now timeless, which is something that kind of breaks my heart about dance, especially live dance, is that it only truly exists in that moment, even if it’s captured on film, the actual moment of it is so temporary and so fleeting, it’s what makes it so beautiful, but God, I just wish that it could last forever. But when you explained those shapes those poses, if you will, as becoming eternal, it was an emotional experience. And, and that is inclusive.
I thank you for that observation. And I, I totally, I mean, speaking about bringing information from other forms and other experiences into right now, we’re talking about ballet. So into this particular farm, that information I’ve learned and developed from, from learning and developing my relationship with Jermaine, uh, this idea of endless directionality and opposing forces and opposing energies in the body. That’s something that I was first introduced to by him. And it’s something that we really privilege in the work that we make together and in our, in our improv practice and in all of that stuff. So then again, the thought is that it doesn’t have to just belong to that practice like that improv face or that creative space with Jermaine, but I can actually invite it with me into my ballet practice or any other practice that I’m in. And I just think, I just think that that matters.
That does matter. Is it possible? You guys new idea, auditioning it on you now? Is it possible that improvisation is the foundation of all styles? Because everybody’s body is their own. And if the body is the tool of dance, then a degree of mastery of your own body and a communication of your own body in the moment from moment to moment is, is essential.
I’ll tell you what I, my experience with improvisation is that I really didn’t like it because no one was me what to do and I didn’t know how to be good at that. I didn’t like it until post my time at Netherlands dance theater. So I’m like a grownup person running around the dance world, not loving improvisation and not making improvisation into my world until I joined a company that is rooted in improvisation, the Forsythe company. And that was a real hard, um, awakening to, to have somebody say to me, well, how do you want to do it? Which is essentially what that proposition was. You’re going to improvise in this show. So you’re demonstrating what do you think essentially. And I was like, I don’t know what, what should I think is how I answered that. I didn’t know how to answer that. And I was 26-27, something like that at the time. And I just felt like, wow, this is, this is really late in the game to not even have a clue what my, how I want to move, how, what are my instincts? What are my values? And it was in those two years of working there that, and just being immersed in improvisation that I really learned, what do I care about? What are my values? What are my impulses? And that work, that exploration has just fully permeated everything. I mean, it’s, it’s like, um, like a good kind of infection not like COVID It’s just, I find it everywhere. Now. I didn’t know that person before. I didn’t know the person that knew what, uh, what they wanted in dance and knew how to make choices in dance. I only knew the person that knew how to be told what to, right?
I think it is a risk, um, to be always told what to do and told what to think and not taught how to think dance taught me a lot, you guys. Dance taught me a lot. And some things that you might not expect, like how to manage my time or how to, uh, work in a group, how to resolve some conflicts. Right. Um, but it did not teach me HOW to think. And it certainly didn’t give me confidence in my thoughts if I ever had it, if I ever had any confidence at all, it was because somebody told me that it was good, but I, I rarely had confidence in my thoughts.
That’s right. And I feel like we’re touching on something that, especially in this moment, uh, is important to be thinking about is that, you know, we’re speaking a lot about dance, like less than civilization and culture. I’m speaking about concert, dance, culture, fine arts, in quotation marks, education. Why are those fine, we’re talking about, but I didn’t know, like someone taught me how to dance. Well somebody taught you these particular forms, but again, everyone knows how to dance because they have a body like everyone dances. We’ve been dancing since the beginning before somebody decided to hold a class, you know, like people were teaching and learning from each other as a way of communicating as a way of expressing, as a way of existing as a way of keeping track of their stories and their history and all those things. So it’s just, it’s very important to remember. You’re really affected by like the forming and the codifying of the idea. But everybody dances.
I know this because, I know babies, that wiggle in their car seats when music comes on and nobody said do that. And nobody said, put your shoulders down.
I just think it’s also worth noting that the way that Jermaine was just talking about that need to codify is also like this idea about the needs to define in terms of goal setting, like what he was speaking about before this idea to just let it be experienced is, is the information you need in order to know how to engage with it. Um, yeah. What is, what is this need to define it, to like set it in concrete and make a statue out of it? Um, and is that what we have to do to it in order to relate to it?
Or is that what we need to do to it in order to remember it like 400 years from now, if my generations pass down, want to find out what I was doing at this time, how would they find it? You know, how, how would I know the important players of this thing, if this thing didn’t have a name, um, in this, in this kind of information age where you have to know what you want to search for in order to find it, I mean, that’s, to me that’s maybe the only, well, certainly the best way that I can, the best reason I can think of giving things a category or a name is simply so that they can be recorded and found later. Um, but yes, I’ve seen that genre-fecation as being so divisive and Jermaine, you mentioned earlier, like you mentioned that the dance world is very separate and it’s weird to me that for as small as it is, there is so much distance between the groups. It is so section off.
Because there’s so much hierarchy and the structure of it that is about creating exclusivity and elitistsm and ultimately I think we all don’t respond to that very well. I mean, at the top of it is, is whiteness and privilege.
And I think you you’ve touched on right away with that idea of like, who decided what was fine, because that’s, that’s why we spend more time in ballet, in college programs then other forms of dance. Because those things were defined and those things were defined by white people.
Yeah. That’s heartbreaking to think how much is being left out. Um, I think about when you use the word fine in relationship to fine art, I think about fine China and that, that, and, and how rarely it gets used and dance is so useful. It might be weird coming from somebody who operates primarily in the commercial space, but dance is useful. It has function connective, um, expressive, and to think of how much dance isn’t getting used, because it’s not considered fine. Like how many hip hop programs are there on the university level street styles, freestyles. There’s a huge problem there.
I mean, there’s also a problem there though, because the idea is like, you need to access information through this place in order for it to be successful? And that also isn’t true. You can be phenomenal, incredible artists without having to go to a university. The university doesn’t benefit from telling you that.
Thats coming from a person that teaches at a university so that might be really weird for me to say. But its something that I’ve been thinking about a lot, like I have to go to this place in order to attain success to get to the next level. But that aint true because the teachers that teach hip hop at the universities they taught themselves. Right?
You have, you have proof that it isn’t essential yet, yet the high price point would make you believe that it is simply because it’s that expensive. It must be important.
You know, we have to remember that, even though we see that, and it’s super shiny and impressive, that is not the end all. That is not the only definition of success. Everyone does not to be Beyonce And everyone won’t be Beyonce. You know, we’re saying, look at Beyonce and say, look at how she did it, you can do it too. this is a way to inspire people. But the flip side of that is like, there is one Beyonce, and if you don’t become her, that’s also, okay, you can do something else. You can still make music on a different level for a different person that can be successful.
What is success to you Jermaine?
I think success is living in tune, I was going to say with your purpose, but I don’t want that to sound too esoteric and like religious it’s living with your intuition and letting that also cultivate how you interact with your community and the people around you.
Spens, I’m curious what you’d say.
Yeah. I think especially lately I’m feeling similar to Jermaine. Um, I can recognize different times in my life when I felt feelings of success and what it feels like to me is purposefulness. Um, happiness is in there. And I think that that has come in my life when I felt like I’m really listening to what I actually want to do, as opposed to what I feel like I should do and have like a good, um, balance of those moments. What I’ve struggled with in the past is worry about what I should do. And I guess I never spoke about the goal setting idea, my relationship to goal setting. Sometimes it’s complicated for that same idea of creating tunnel vision, like talked about early on this thought about the goal, kind of taking over my sense of self or, or being present with what’s actually happening and what I, how I’m starting to understand it now is to be just a little bit vague blurring edges so that things can transform. When I try to specify the goal, sometimes I made pursuit of my happiness, not so honest. So to me to circle back success feels like really being honest with myself about what I’m actually looking for, as opposed to what I expect myself to be looking for.
Gentlemen, I cannot thank you enough. You’ve blown my mind several different points during this conversation. I’m not shocked by that because this is what you do. I love you. Thank you so much.
Though you we’re done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, theDanawilson.com/podcast Finally, and most importantly, now you have a way to become a words that move me member. So kickball change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody. Now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.
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 and welcome to episode 20. Thank you so much for being here. How are you feeling today? I am feeling appreciated. Yeah. Appreciated. I’ve been seeing new daily doers doing incredible things and I see some day oners that have been listening to the podcast since the very beginning that are well into their hundreds of daily doing, doing daily. I am so proud of you all and um, go back and listen to episode one if you have no clue what I’m talking about right now. Great. Also, just more broadly, thank you all for your messages, support, encouragement. I’m getting a lot of feedback via email and direct messages and tags on IG, so thank you for all of that love. I’m glad that you’re digging the pod. And if you are new here, welcome. I know that you’re going to find some grade a information and inspiration here, especially in this episode. I am jazzed about it, super confident that you’re going to dig this and I’m excited to get into it.
But first let’s talk wins. My win this week is that I’ve been wearing these um, blue blocker, like blue light blocking glasses and loving the way my eyeballs feel. Yes, that’s the thing that I consider is eyeball feel. Um, right out of the gate. This is definitely not a paid endorsement. I have no relationship with the makers of these glasses. Um, but I’m finding them super helpful and I thought that that would be a good one to share because light plays a huge part in this episode. Wink, wink, teaser, teaser. Um, so back to these weird blue blocker glasses. I want to first preface this by saying they’re not FDA regulated because they are not medicine. And there is honestly a lot of debate around whether or not they’re helpful or just hype. But the glasses I bought were only 17 bucks. So I figured I would just see for myself, see what I did there. See anyways, so I’ve been wearing them for about four days and um, honestly I’ve noticed some improvement by the end of each night. My eyes aren’t stinging, my head isn’t pounding and I’m getting to sleep super fast. Granted that could be for 100 other reasons. It very well could be a placebo effect, but for less than $20 I will take the sugar pill. If I think it’s working and it’s not causing me any harm, then who cares? So I have added these amazing to me glasses to our words that move me Amazon shopping list where you can find all of the other gadgets and gizmos and good reads that I mentioned here on the podcast and that Amazon shopping list can be found on the show notes to this episode, episode 20 on my website, theDanawilson.com So enjoy that. Oh, also a note, a word to the wise. I guess if you are editing photos or videos or working on anything where color is important, obviously make sure you check your work without the glasses on because they do change the way your screen looks pretty substantially. Okay, great. Lot of talk about glasses. Now you go, what’s your win? What’s going well in your world?
Killer. All right, congrats. Keep crushing it. Okay. This week my guest is Iggy Rosenberg, to put it very, very briefly. Iggy is illuminating. He got his start working in nightclubs in Buenos Aires. He’s from Argentina and has a great accent, unrelated. Then he worked as a roadie on big, big concert tours. Then he became a lighting designer and now he is the director of business at a major visual design firm called Lightswitch. Iggy has worked in just about every layer of live shows that there is and in this episode we peel back the layers and take a look at almost all of them. Without any further ado, here is my conversation with Iggy Rosenberg.
Thank you so much for being here on the podcast today. Welcome and really quickly introduce yourself.
Iggy: So my name is Iggy Rosenberg. I’m a lighting and production designer. I come from, I was born and raised in Argentina. I’m going to say this and I moved here in 2004, which seems incredible, uh, toured, for many, many years. Did a lot of rock and roll stuff, been around the world a few times. I’ve seen some really, really cool stuff. And then, uh, and then I made a break out of touring into the corporate world and I joined a design firm called, Lightswitch and last year I got promoted to director of business development. So I still design, uh, I still design a lot, I’ll never stop designing, but I’m, uh, I’m in charge of also finding clients and keeping clients and I’m finding new opportunities.
Incredible. Okay. So your experience and training and skill set goes like many, many layers deep, um, all sides of the entertainment business. I guess. And I’m so curious about all of it. Maybe let’s start with touring. How would you introduce, or how would you explain the role of a crew chief to somebody that, and that’s what, that’s what you were on the road. How would you explain that role to somebody who knows nothing about being on tour?
You know, you, you go, I think like any other job, you go through the levels, um, and you learn their systems and you learn how to build things. And then you go on the road and you’re the number five guy in a four man crew and you go up the positions and you keep learning. Yeah. Tours are an interesting beast and I think a lot of people maybe don’t realize that the actual touring party isn’t that big. Right? It takes a lot of people to build this. And the only way you can do this, especially with local labor, is to delegate. So you have a person that’s in charge of, like in my case, the lighting crew. And then we usually have like four or five people that work directly with me that they’re on the tour with us. Um, so we usually have someone that’s called it the Dimmer Tech. He’s in charge of all the power distribution, all the cables. Uh, we’ll usually have a couple of guys that specialize in moving lights and repairing them and hanging them. But you have to keep that crew working with their local labor. So all I do is I will bounce between them to make sure they have everything they need and trying to stay ahead a couple steps ahead of what their next job is. Um, and then communicate with the production side, you know, with the stage manager, with the local store, with the production manager. So you’re kind of in between, between production and, and the sort of logistical side. The on the day I’m the worker bees running around building the shell.
A lot more communication than I expected from that answer to be honest. Okay. So, um, I loaded out a couple of times. Um, yeah. Oh my gosh. Yeah, the choreographer for the tour that I was on insisted because I was a rookie. It was my first world tour with, um, JT. It was the future sex love show tour and the choreographer, Marty Kudelka, who I just had on the podcast said like, before this tour is over, you must, must load out. I had made friends with a couple of the carps by that point. So, uh, we did it. My, my best friend and I, Ava Bernstein on that tour, we load it out and it was a fully like four hour, the dirtiest my hands have ever been in my life at the end of that load out a beer and pizza had never tasted so good. It was, it was really hard work. So how much would you say of your time was split between the really hands on grunt work and then the communication? Like the delegation?
Uh, you know, there’s a, I like to be active. Uh, I was always a climber, so I was, I would go up and climb on the rigs. There is a moment, you know, I know nowadays, especially now that I’m a designer, I, I’m not really allowed to push stuff around, um, for insurance purposes. Uh, but I tell people I’ve, you seen me with a harness, like something’s gone terribly wrong. Like if I’m climbing somewhere, like, like I always had like one truss to build or two, but I couldn’t spend too much time in that because the more time I spent heads down looking at what I’m doing, I can’t look at the team. So you, I had something I would help, I would jump in wherever else needed help. Um, but most of it was you just, it was a giant spiral. You just keep going between the teams making sure. And a big thing is you’re just looking at the very big picture, right? Because the guys have their small picture and then the local stations have even smaller because they don’t know the tour. They just, that’s the first time they’ve seen it, that they, so you give them smaller bits to work on and then I have the bigger picture and then, you know, the stage manager has even bigger picture. So you kind of have to stay a few steps away from doing the groundwork. Uh, I do. And this is different shows and different tours at different mentalities where I came from, the crew chief, uh, would load and certify the trucks at the end, make sure that they were safe and they were loaded and you make the packs and you make sure because you have to load them in a way that makes sense on the way in. Um, so you, I would load all the trucks, uh, you know, most of the times or have someone help me with, you know, we could do multiple at a time, but that was the biggest sort of thing was dumping in the morning, making sure everything went to the right places, um, during the day, making sure that you, so you load in thinking about the load out. You can’t bury yourself cause then you’re, you know, you screw yourself in the end.
Cool. I love this. Um, Oh it’s making me miss tour life. I think it’s very odd, very ironic that tour life is kind of a perfect training for quarantine life. I say that it’s, I say that as ironic because obviously on tour you are almost constantly surrounded by other people. But being on the road taught me how to communicate from great distances. Right? Like I was keeping in touch with my fiance, now my husband, with my family, you know, you get real good at FaceTime and Skype. My last tour was before zoom was cool, but you get good at communicating with people that are far away. You get good at communicating in general. But also how to live with less. Like you have two suitcases and, and you don’t have the things that you quote need like my blue bottle coffee or my trader Joe’s weird items. Like you, you become far away from the things that you’re used to. And that is a reminder of how we can be resourceful and how we can live with less, which I think is a beautiful gift of this time. Um, but it also teaches you how to be adaptable and makes you cherish home, which is, which is something that we’re all, um, maybe getting a little sick of right now. But other than other than this like big picture muscle that you got really strong at, what are the other essential skills and mindsets that you took away from tour life?
You know, there’s well, in general tour life beyond my role and I’ve always been a big proponent of this and I’ve always talked to my clients about this and until this day, I’m a big believer that particularly the live entertainment industry, unlike any other industry in the world where you can call someone that in any other job is your direct competitor. Like, like I’ve had production managers had to go to their kids’ weddings and they’ve called another production manager to come fill in for a week. And I said, calling the CEO of your competitor company to let come fill in and know that in a week like you’re going to come back and the guy’s going to go, well there’s your show back again. And you know that it’s okay. We’re all friends. It’s a community that really lives and breathes upon the relationships and the friendships that you generate. We’re very lucky to consider, you know, our clients, our friends, we treat them with the same level of respect. And sometimes maybe you say the things that we tell friends and, but that is, that is a big sense of community because you are, you know, somebody told me once we had a wardrobe girl that was, it was her first tour. She came from TV and she’s like, you guys are always so angry. I’m like, well, will you see us doing a load? And I’m like, you have to understand there’s, there’s, there’s 90 people that Oh one their stuff to be in the same place at the same time. Yeah. It gets kind of tense, but after we’re done it’s like, Oh, let’s go have lunch, let’s go have lunch. And everybody’s fine. Like there is no animosity. I mean it does happen of course, but, but that sense of, of, of cooperation and community is like the best thing that comes out of that. And then probably the ability to panic last.
After, after you see enough things go wrong. Yeah. I tell people that because I used to be, I used to be a very angry roadie in the beginning of my career and then nothing happened. It just stopped. It was a very odd, like, there wasn’t like an enlightened, like nothing, you know? No, no sun beam came down and like shone on me. Uh, but now one of my things I say is like, you know, if the stage is on fire, yelling at the fire isn’t going to make it go away. Like you either let it burn or you go get the fire extinguisher. So you learn how not to panic. And nowadays it’s like, yeah, fuck it, let’s fix it or not fix it. But let’s, you know, everybody’s stopped yelling and running around. It’s okay.
It’s okay. Yes. That, that’s the other, um, quarantine prep. That life on tour has taught me when you’re working on really tight timelines and relatively high stakes circumstances, right? Like, you know, the doors are gonna open at seven o’clock and 70,000 people are going to come in here expecting to see this show and X isn’t working. Right. So we, we’ve gotten really good at responding to things.
Yeah. Like we’ve, we’ve had, uh, I had, I remember one of my first doors, uh, I don’t know why don’t exact, I don’t remember the whole thing. It was a while ago. Well we ended up with a bunch of smoke machine liquid on the stage. So the stage was I got a bit of a ice rink. It was either really cold or something. But yeah, I mean the dancers were like, we can’t do this anymore. So we had to go and spray Coke. And again, between numbers, like while the artist was speaking in the front, there was a bunch of guys behind like spraying Coke on the floor cause cause this is where like, you know, it’s, it’s impossible. It affects everyone.
That’s a really good example of responding to emergencies with creativity. And like I, the Coke, Coca Cola is an interesting tool. I’ve used it in classrooms as well as onstage. Um, I remember a show with JT that we did the Stade De France. Um, it was an, it’s an outdoor venue. It’s a soccer stadium and it was raining that day, which made for a really like Epic performance of Cry Me A River. Um, but it also was really, really dangerous. And I remember right before the show when it was just like misting our wardrobe, head of wardrobe started off sticking sandpaper on the bottom of our shoes, like double stick sandpaper. And I was like, I’ve never seen nor would I have ever thought of that. It was a great solution. So again, tour life, preparing you for real life, let’s get creative, let’s solve problems.
Tour life is ripe with opportunities to problem solve in a world where you’re doing the same show over and over, like sometimes hundreds of times. I’m continually continuously, continually, you know what constantly impressed at the number of things, even the number of new things that can go wrong. Another thing that’s unique to touring life as Iggy mentioned is that although it is a very competitive industry, there are so few people that get to do it and get to doing it really, really well. That when it comes to finding a substitute or a fill in of some sort, it’s not uncommon to ask your competitor to do that for you. Just imagine that for a second. So wild. It’s so wild to me. And that’s just the beginning of the, that is tour life. Iggy and I exchanged wild tour stories for quite a while, but you simply have to hear about who’s tour shut down a military airport. Want to take a guess if you guys correctly, I want to know that you guessed correctly. So send me a direct message, let me know words that move me podcast on Instagram. Okay, back we go.
I toured with Paul McCartney for a couple of years. I couldn’t really understand the apeal of the Beatles and stuff. I just, it wasn’t my generation. I wasn’t exposed to it until I did my tour and I was like, I get it. Like I get the a hundred thousand people in a stadium, you know, and it was just one of those monster shows where you get charted everywhere. It was amazing. Uh, but we, we saw some weird stuff in the tour and one of them we do literally, they shut down an airport because the radar, it was a military airport and their radar, every time they swung around would turn off and on all the video walls. And the promoter called the airport and the military captain or whatever, the guy in terms of the military airport went like, well, you know, we’ll turn it off if that’s the case. And it was, and we’re like, well, you know, it’s an airport, but we’ll have to figure out what to do with it. He goes, well, I don’t know. We’ll just, we’ll just turn it off. We’ll turn both of them off. Nuts!
That’s nuts. Holy smokes.
Its Paul Macartney, he gets away with it. You like, people will do whatever he needs to, you know.
Wow. The, the power, the power. Um, okay. So on the road as crew chief, uh, you got to know the artists. You got to know big audiences. You, you got to see shows like on the ground, and then you became a designer, sort of transitioned into the, the artistic side. Um, and you must have been up to your ears and software and tech and all sorts of things. I don’t even know come along with that profession. Um, could you actually explain the role and importance of a lighting designer for a live show?
Yeah. And it depends a bit. I mean, now the things are a bit more combined. Back then there was a very big distinction between rock and roll and corporate and TV. Now, you know, everything has a camera. We all carry a camera with us. So, so we kind of have to light for everything. Like the essence of design is a, it’s the most elegant solution to a problem. So the thing is you’d have to reframe what your problems are. And for me there’s always three. There’s an artistic problem of how do we make this look good? How do we make the artists look good? How, or my now we do a little corporate, you know, how do we keep the brand and the theme of the show, there’s been, you know, the producers design a show and we have to keep that going. Um, how do we make them look good on camera, on to a live audience? How are they comfortable on stage? There is a monetary problem, there’s always a budget. And how do we get the show with this amount of money? And that’s what a lot of our relationships with vendors come into play. Um, and then there’s a physical problem, which is I can design the biggest show in the world, all the money in the world. And if it doesn’t fit in the building or the building can hold the weight, then we go back to square one. So you have to balance all those, those three things. Um, some were in there and it’s not a problem, but it’s a thing you have to, there’s always also cooperation with other departments. You know, you have to talk to the video crew and make sure that, you know, our color temperature works with our cameras and talk to the sonic guy to know that he didn’t put a bunch of lights in front of a drape that’s gonna catch on fire. Like a lot of times the older guys have to, they have a much more physics approach to things, to the situation. So kind of with the software tells them the speakers have to go, they have to go an something in front of like the, like the lights up the guys, but we have to move around, you know, you move two inches that way and I moved two inches this way and maybe we can make it work. So yeah, it’s a lot of balancing but, but I think those are the three main areas that we tend to juggle. So heat and as an audience member at a show, you might have no idea that all of that had to be considered.
Oh, what else do you wish that people knew about what you do?
Yeah, yeah. I can probably tell you, you know, like without lighting, it’s just, it’s just radio. But, uh, no, I think there is, and then maybe depends on where you come from. Is, is that whatever we do is for their enjoyment. Uh, I’m a big believer, I started in nightclubs in Argentina. I’m a big believer that people should attend an event and not go see one. So I tend to like the audience a lot more cause I want them to be a part of like, I think especially corporate after you’re there for 12 hours looking at a guy on stage, you want your environmental react to it. Um, but at the end goal is to help our clients tell their story and help the audience enjoy what they’re seeing.
You talked a little bit about lighting for everything, um, in regards to TV or live or like a big stage show. Um, and then you referenced that being, because everybody now has a camera in their pocket. So has that made your job like exponentially difficult because things need to look good from all angles for all lenses? Like how do you even approach that task?
Maybe not exponentially. It’s just added another layer that we need to balance. Um, there’s always been, and this is very probably very, very, you know, on the nose because you do work with, you know, you work in the dance community and there’s always been this little rift right between the techs and the dancers and, um, Oh, you know, we liked dancers so they look good for example, but we also have to make sure that they can see and they know what’s happening on stage. And then we’ve had many arguments many times of like, I can’t see the Mark and If l light the mark, you look terrible and you know, and then, and then we, then we have that second layer of what the audience sees. And then, and then we had to add, like there’s always cameras and I imagine, but it was never a thing. But now that since they’re there and they’re all HD and the screens are incredible, well, we’re going to like, so I like, usually I light my artists, like they’re televised. Um, these iphones. They’re, they’re very forgiving, but we just don’t know. We don’t know if the CEO is up there doing his big speech, if he’s going to go backstage and watch it on a calibrated screen with a camera, the right angle, or if there’s an assistant that’s going to shoot the video that she showed in her iPhone, that from down here up his nose, you know, so it has to look good for everyone and people take these, they’re their memories. You know, nowadays, I mean, I don’t know if anyone goes back to look at it. I was scrolling through my photos and I was like, I can’t believe I still have these videos. I’ve never seen them. Um, but people have the intentions of good. I mean it’s, it’s part of our skillset to do it, so we should do it.
Incredible. Great answer. Thank you. I’m fascinated at the difference. You’ve highlighted a few between corporate versus concert events. Um, what are, what are some standouts? Like what are, as far as your angle of getting a job done
All right. Now this might come as a shock you, but I don’t spend much time at big corporate events. Even before the covid shut down. I was super interested to hear how, wow my wrist makes a snapping sound every time I twist it like this. The things you learn when you’re doing a podcast. Anyways, I was very interested to hear about how many factors a lighting designer has to take into consideration when they’re working for a big corporation. The audience, especially for example, a tour can blast an audience with light and lasers and strobes for an hour and a half and that’s fine. More or less, I mean, unless you’re pregnant or have other health conditions, but imagine being faced with that with like concert tour level lighting for eight hours a day for five days of a big conference or something. Oh wait, that’s basically Coachella. Okay, well imagine going to a yogurt land conference because if I went to a corporate event, it would be a yogurt land conference, but imagine a big yogurt studio event that was lit entirely red gross. Or imagine going to a big tech firms, new product reveal or a car reveal or something that’s lit. The way the play place at McDonald’s is lit. Very confusing, very not hot. So much respect to the lighting designers out there. Really consider that everything you see has been considered by someone else if they’re doing it right. That is okay. So now Iggy finds himself firmly on the business side of a business that is not so firm at all at the moment. Let’s hear Iggy’s take on the current state of live and in person events. From the business point of view.
Three months ago, we, my schedule was so packed that I was going to be home for, I think it was something like five days and a couple of months. Uh, and, and in 48 hours living 40 hours, we went from that to not having anything for six months. Um, so that was, I mean, besides the, the, the whipsaw that we got from that, um, you know, we, what we see, we, we were very lucky that we managed to transfer a couple of shows to virtual shows. So we, we broadcast them. So we kind of, in a week we had to turn the thing that was designed for a live audience into something that was designed to be shot with zoom. And it was, it was that probably the one of the first, um, in this new era of, of zoom broadcast events. Um, and it was a show for Hyundai uh, for a car reveal. Um, since then, yeah, that’s gonna be the next few months is going to be film green-screen corporate shows. Um, you know, a lot of our vendors have built entire streaming studios in their, in their warehouses. There’s been a lot of sudden appreciation for a set of the technology that I think even us, we just didn’t have like bandwidth and how do we get all this stuff into a computer and, and how do people see it and then like who can see it properly? How does the audio work and stuff a week go through scale that, you know, where the money, you know, as much bigger than, than, and the pressure is much larger. Mmm. You know, we still, we, we get pinged a few times a week about doing virtual events and we try to navigate our clients through it. Um, you know, and, and a lot of it has, the sense of cooperation between parties has been huge because everybody’s suffering at the same time. This isn’t like the TV guys suddenly have no work and we’re doing great. Or in the recession back in 2008 where the touring market kind of kicked off a bit because people couldn’t travel there. People just didn’t have money there. So they couldn’t travel. So then we’ll go see shows or touring kind of became these mega shows that we have now incorporated disappeared cause nobody had money. Uh, now just nobody has anything. Nobody can leave their house, nobody can get together. Nobody has money. So it’s, it’s stuff but, but you know, industries have to continue working. Um, people still have to sell things and people still develop products and um. It’s the right thing to do. We’ll continue to do virtual events and we think that in the future we’re going to have some sort of hybrid thing where there’s going to be 10 people in a room with everyone brought guests and there’s going to be 50 people in a room and there’s going to be a hundred. And it will slowly tip her up to like, I don’t think it will be in, in a month. They’re going to go, ah, everybody in that stadium, let’s go. Like it’s just not going to happen.
All right. I had to jump out here because Iggy mentioned something very interesting that I hadn’t really considered before this moment during the recession in 2008 I was coming off of my first tour with JT and I started working almost immediately for Cirque de Solei and some of you are going to hate me for saying this, but I’m saying this because it’s an interesting observation. I think it’s worth shining some light on, sorry, I can’t help myself. These puns. Anyways, I didn’t own a home at the time. I didn’t even have rent. I’d gotten rid of my apartment right before we started touring and then Cirque housed me in Montreal for a short period and then for another short stint in Vegas. And as a humble dancer and dance teacher, my humble bank account was more or less immune to the wiggles and wobbles of the needle in terms of America’s economy. That’s how it was at the time anyways. Okay. I’m totally speculating here and you could probably shoot a million holes in my theory and please bring it, but my guess is that tour’s did relatively well in 2008 because a people couldn’t afford to travel, so they were willing to save up and shell out for the big shows that traveled to them, especially the shows that scooped them up into another world, a world where they felt sexy and cool and rich and free from all of their worries and stuff. It’s not uncommon actually. I think people use entertainment, music, movies, concerts, comedy shows, other shows, wink, wink to buffer negative emotions. Yeah. That was me raising my hand. The office was my drug of choice several years ago. Man, those belly laughs and even tears really helped me ignore many of the negative emotions that I really should have been processing. So raise your hand if you’re spending more than average or more than a healthy amount of time buffering with Netflix these days. Yeah, entertainment, whatever the platform, whatever the mode of distribution will always survive. We’re like a cockroach. Okay, let’s file that under similes I will never use again. Okay. Back on track. Back to my theory. Part B of this is that I’ve noticed that most parents will make big, big sacrifices in order to preserve the quality of life for their children. So as a dance teacher whose bread and butter came from teaching kids between seven and 17 again, yes, I did see a bit of a change during 2008 but I was far from out of a job. People worked really, really hard to keep their kids in dance class to keep their kids around dance and art and entertainment because those are the things that bring us joy. Those are the things that enhance our quality of life. Our covid crisis circumstances are quite different in the sense that travel, AKA touring and training and entertainment industries like movies and amusement parks are among the hardest hit. But the silver lining and you know that I have a silver lining, is that entertainment is as good as immortal. As long as there are people, there will be stories to tell and as long as there are stories to tell, there will be dance and theater and jokes and film and so on and so on. Okay. So that is my theory. Like it or not. Let’s jump back in now and talk about the future of entertainment and stories, specifically books.
What I’m experiencing in dance in my work as a choreographer and as a teacher is affected in several different ways right now obviously, no, I’m not going on a tour at the moment. Um, and I’m also not going to any auditions at the moment and there aren’t, I know of a few, but there aren’t as many commercial opportunities. Um, I have heard of a few really interesting commercial shoots where production is, is delivering equipment to the homes of the talent and then the talent will shoot it themselves on whatever the camera, probably an iPhone or something, um, that they were sent. And then somebody from production will pick it back up when they’re done, sanitize it and get the data off of it and make, make a thing. So
Brilliant idea. Yeah, I’ve never heard of that.
I think there will be a lot of creative ways and like you mentioned a lot of ways that we get to work together to try to solve this problem and it’s all of our first time we are leveled and humbled by this unprecedented thing. But, um, the other area that I wanted to take a look at is this teaching for, for me and training for most professionals and for aspiring professionals is getting a huge punch in the face right now because most dance classes are not one-on-one. Most dance classes happen in person and in huge groups. So what we’re seeing, especially I think zoom is probably right, the most utilized zoom and Instagram live, um, for training right now for dancers. But, uh, on both of those audio lag and video quality are huge issues. I have basically no way of knowing that they see the right time. And timing is, is, is a big part of what we do. I won’t say that it, I won’t say that it’s everything, but it’s a big deal. Um, have you seen or do you have a futures glance at solutions to those types of problems?
No, it’s funny cause we, we talked about this and especially, you know, I still have a couple of dance classes was very obviously off sync I’m not obviously not a dancer. So if I can tell, you know, like it’s pretty obvious that it’s going to be pretty awkward for people to take that class if that happens. You know, we sync stuff constantly, uh, through video. Um, I think that this keeps growing. There will be a point and this may exist and I may just not be aware of it. Then maybe there must be a way that you can on the front side, sync up the sound.
Even when you are live, like at a concert stadium, what your eyes see is definitely different than what your ears hear, especially if you’re in the nosebleeds. So in a way, this isn’t a problem that’s exclusive to zoom
Sound sound guys have to take into consideration delay and fades or, yeah, constantly. I think that the problem where the internet comes in is that everybody has a different, it’s not a controlled environment as much as concerts. I’m not controlled, but everybody has different internet providers and speeds and qualities. Yeah. Well I’ve thought about it lately. I think that that’s going to become a thing. And again, it may exist. I may just not,
Speaking of it may exist. My husband and I watched minority report last night, which came out in 2008 but it takes place. The story takes place in 2050, something like 20, 50 something. So the, the distant but not unimaginable future. Um, and my husband and I like to joke, it had been a while since we’d seen it. It was not our first time watching it, but it had been awhile. We now are calling it acrylic report because all of the tech in that movie is made from Plexiglas. Um, and like not even that great looking, just like everything is acrylic hysterical. But, but there were some things that I think they really got right. For example, there’s this, like your irises get scanned and people are tracking your location and using your eye scan to target advertisements to you in a way that’s already happening. Right? Like my phone knows where I am and they know what I’m looking at and that information is being used to sell me things. Um, but one of the things that happened in this movie that, that particularly caught my eye, and I’m wondering if it is happening already, probably is, is this idea of nightclubs with individual pods where humans go in and have a virtual experience, whether it’s acting out some fantasy, be it awful or pleasurable, um, or something like I just want to go into a room and feel flattered for a second. I want people to tell me nice things about myself or I want to be the pop star for a change or, right. Um, now it doesn’t seem like that is all too far off. Do you know of things like that already happening?
Right. So speaking of the business, um, you mentioned that your firm Lightswitch is really committed to coming out of this. And by this I mean, um, Corona times, uh, coming out of it better than you went in. So you might not come out of it with more money, but you’ll come out of it with more skills. Um, how is your company and then how are you focused on that?
Well, you know, we were, we were kind of in a bit of a transition. We have, uh, we’ve, we’ve all used the same lighting system for, for a while now, uh, in the company, the new system, the new console came out, uh, right before this happened. Um, so I, you know, I just, I spent the last couple of weeks, you know, getting trained on it because I, you know, unfortunately I don’t have one, but, but there’s an offline version of pages in the computer. So I’ve been learning how to use it. Um, and a lot of it has been just talking to one another and Hey, what are you doing and how are things, and I met these, not necessarily a skillset of something technical, but keeping everybody grounded and, and you know, connected. And so a lot of, you know, happy hours and emails and keeping people at bridge and help with people with, you know, a lot of our, a lot of our people have, um, small companies, um, and they’ve been trying to get the loans that we have from the giant chain amongst lighting designers of, of, of, you know, my bank did this and my bank did that. And how did we get this protection loan? Um, I’ve been reading, I mean, I used to read a lot as a kid and then I stopped when I discovered the internet ruined me, but I moved a boomer myself. I didn’t know that I could, I could stay up late and watch TV so they didn’t have a problem. Uh, but I mean, I’ve been reading for graciously since this started. Um, which is good. I have a ton of books that I’ve always like half read, so I’ve been finishing them off. Um, yeah. Yeah, I mean, it’s just a lot out. There’s, there’s only so much we can do training wise, you know, online without the gear. But, you know, we’ve, I’ve been talking to a lot of manufacturers about, you know, stuff that they’re doing, um, helping them with their marketing. And a lot of them I’ve trained, I’ve changed their marketing from just advertisements and selling to, to teaching up and coming designers how to do stuff. So we’ve, we’ve done a couple of those and we’re going to continue doing them. Um, yeah, I mean, maybe we just come out of better people.
Um, I’m so glad that you brought up books. Uh, I was having a conversation with my husband before this interview and, um, he’s an engineer and an artist and many, many things. And, uh, one of his first projects, one of the things that made him, uh, famous is a book scanning machine. And this was years and years and years ago when, uh, digitization of books was really a hot topic for intellectual property reasons. And, um, he brought up a really great point, which was right now we’re digitizing our live product, which is my dancing, my classes and those things are becoming digital. So when people ask me, do you think this is going to kill classes? Do you think this is going to kill concerts? Like if people can have it in their living room at any time on demand, um, are they going to stop going to classes once classes are a thing again? Are they going to stop going to concerts once concerts are a thing again? And my answer to that, at least for now, yeah, is people still have books, right? People still touch books. People still read books. Yes, they became digital. Yes, that happened. But most of the people that I know and talk to still prefer the real thing. Um, they’re shareable. They are notated like you can write in numbers, there’s art to it and you can, and you can give them to one another. You can transfer them. You can like smell them.
Don’t get me wrong. I do have a Kindle and I read them. I can though, which came out of touring because when I started we didn’t have Kindles and I would have a suitcase full of books and books are heavy. Yeah. So, so we do have Kindles. Yeah. Books are great. It’s good to have. I love that. Horrible chill. Yeah. I think it’s, I think it’s a helpful analogy to think of for, for those of us that are looking at this with a, this doom and gloom a thought that, that this means the end of a certain thing. It definitely, definitely means a change. Yeah. We’re adaptable. I mean, if anything, humans are incredibly adaptable. Right. Um, and we like connection. You know, we’re not, we’re never not going to go and try and share a concert of music and our favorite band and the mindset that comes with it. Um, which is not the same if you’re going to living them by yourself. I mean, it happened. It may have to happen. Um, there, there may be a good side to this and how we reach people, how to communicate with people, but I think people will always want to go to a concert or a show and, and talk to other people in the hog and, and express their uniqueness and how they dress and that kind of stuff.
Yeah. Oh man, my dressing has gotten very unique for these last months. And by unique, I mean, Oh, I wear whatever in the heck I want and then I wear it for five days straight. Um, well thank you so much for sharing your insights, your expertise. I’m just, I’m floored and always very interested to talk to non dancers, but people that have had a similar experience, whether it’s on tour or in problem solving, which is what I believe this whole creative game is about. Very, very cool. Thank you very much, Iggy, for taking the time. Yeah, I’ll talk to you very soon, I hope. Bye.
Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, the Dana wilson.com/podcast finally, and most importantly now you have a way to become a words that move me member, so kick fall changeover to patrion.com/w T M M podcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody now I’m really, really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.
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: All right. All right. Welcome to the podcast. This is episode 19. Holey Smokes! It’s going by so fast. Everything actually seems to be going by so fast and honestly this is getting somewhat easier and I shouldn’t be shocked by that because I’m getting better at talking to myself alone in a room, doing a lot of that these days. And that actually is kind of what this episode is about. I’m super stoked about it.
Um, but before we dig into that, of course we have to do our wins. My win this week is actually my mom’s. When my mom celebrated a birthday, I’m not going to say the number because the lady never tells. And we had an absolutely awesome virtual birthday party for her. And I was sensitive about that because I believe that certain things cannot be replaced or duplicated. Birthday parties up until this point were one of those sacred special things. And I’m going to be honest, we had a ball, my immediate family, my sister, her husband, her two daughters, um, my brother, his wife and myself and my husband and I all got together for a zoom conference, dinner and cake. And um, my brother also brought a life sized cardboard cutout of him. So there were actually two of my brother, his wife, my sister, her husband, myself, my husband and the nieces and my mom of course, the lady of the hour. And we sat and ate a meal and you know, shot the stuff and had an absolute blast. My sister works in a hospital, um, and she got my mom a bunch of the gifts that you find from the hospital gift store, including a family favorite, Haribo gummy bears, which are absolutely the best if you disagree. I don’t, I don’t know what to say. Um, and then also my sister and I put out the feelers to friends and family all over the world to send in video, birthday shout outs. Um, I’m telling you we got some video gems from old friends and some really priceless selfie sentiments and I got to throw down my speed editing chops and um, man, it was just so special. I got to watch people really well digitally really show up for a woman that is so, so, so special. A woman that must join me on the podcast one of these days. Mom, do you hear me? I mean it, I’m serious. Oh. And also I made my first loaves of bread from yeast that I grew off of raisins, like crazy advanced stuff here. People, I did it and it was decent, decent enough for me to eat two loaves of bread in two days and now I feel like a mattress. So maybe that’s not actually a win after all. But anyways, onto you. What’s going well in your world?
Okay, congratulations. Keep crushing it. So proud of you. Okay. This episode is short and sweet and sensitive. You could think of it as time sensitive, but it really isn’t. The lessons in this episode are fully applicable regardless of date or time or crisis. Let’s dig in to my letter from a friend.
Last week I received a letter in the form of a text actually from a very dear friend, an actor, a director, and one hell of a model American! Name that movie. Um, anyways, after I responded to his message, he and I talked back and forth a little bit and he said that his note was initiated by this thought. “Does everyone else know that this is kind of hard for everyone else?” That shed a light on a very interesting side effect of isolation that I honestly, I hadn’t really considered that much even in the pre covid times. I was the star of the film. That is my life and everybody in my life had a supporting role. Now, although I’m possibly more concerned with the public and public issues than I ever have been, I am absolutely thinking more about myself and my survival than I have before either. Right now my movie is way more monologue than dialogue. Basically all day, every day. I sit alone with myself and I and me and we’re really getting to know each and between you and me and myself and I, I’ve run up against some.. Woof, hard truths about myself and some challenging questions, so today I want to share this letter from my friend and I want to share my reply because I know that he’s not the only one up against challenging thoughts and feelings and it might be illuminating for you to answer some of his questions for yourself.
My friend writes, “I was thinking at first that our pandemic would be like when you hunker down for a snow storm, since I’ve realized it is so much more, obviously the realization though is full of confusion and fragmented thoughts. It feels like unless I’m thinking about or doing something specific, tire changing, setting the table, high knees, my mind drifts but it drifts in muddled, confused, fractured bits of thoughts. I’m struggling to plan things or collect my thoughts on things. I don’t know. Again, I just don’t know. I can’t get things straight in my head sometimes and I’m feeling like it’s a problem with me. I know it’s just a problem for me, but maybe it’s normal. Do you have disconnected thoughts? Trouble getting this stuff in your head? Straight planning our lives helps us define who we want to be when we can’t plan or get excited about something coming. It feels like we’re stuck. I’m just stabbing into the dark here, but I’m not really because someone might read this and think I’m stabbing too. I guess I’m trying to say this is way harder than I thought it would be and at times think that it should be. I get down on myself and that ain’t right. Also, dude, the world needs leaders to lead us, but the world also needs more lovers, not sex, to love us back in this world, you are loved, love back”
Beautiful doozy. I want to start here at the end because I couldn’t agree more. The world needs leaders to lead us and the world also needs more lovers. Not the sexy type. Get your isolated minds out of the gutter, but the type that cares about us, so think about the movies of our lives, right? They are far more powerful when the stories are about people not at person. They’re powerful when they connect. Now, don’t get me wrong, I loved Cast Away, but what if every single movie was Cast Away? I digress. So let us love by acting compassionately towards others. Out of sight should not mean out of mind and let us lead by showing that it is possible to live clean, to live gracefully, to live gratefully, even under difficult circumstances.
Now you could fully stop listening right here. There’s plenty of work to do simply by digging into asking yourself how you can be more compassionate towards others and how you can lead by example. Or you could keep listening to my reply to this dear friend. If you shared any of my friend’s thoughts and feelings about our current circumstances, then you can also pretend that my reply is to you. I wrote after several hours of thinking about a reply.
Dear friend, for the last year or so, I’ve been really focusing on managing my mind. I got a life coach. I’m doing the daily thought downloads the whole bit. I’m observing and I’m working on my thoughts nearly all day, every day, and if I could boil down what I’ve learned and what’s the most helpful to me, it would be this. Number one, feeling bad about feeling bad or resisting feeling bad is more than twice as uncomfortable as feeling bad all by itself. Being okay with negative emotions is where most of my work is at this time. Thinking about how or why this happened causes confusion. Instead, I choose curiosity and I am learning so much thinking that things should be different, causes suffering. Instead I choose acceptance. Things are this way period. Thinking that things can be better is empowering. I have a bright mind. I’m creative, I’m adaptable, I’m capable. I will figure out how to make the things that I can control better, better. I’ll make the things I can make better, better. Yeah, that’s right. And number two, our thoughts about the world, not the world itself are what create our experience of the world. We may not be able to change the world, but we can change the way we think about it. I hope this is helpful and I hope you keep writing. I love the way your mind works. There is no problem with your mind. Your mind is not wrong. We are all stabbing right now is just some of us are stabbing ourselves in the chest and wondering why we’re in pain. The goal is to be able to watch yourself with compassion and curiosity and to ask yourself kindly to put the knife down. I love you so much we can do this.
It’s true. We can do this totally possible to come out of our quarantine winter hibernation better than when we went in. I learned this week. This is an interesting story. I learned that I get really annoyed by questions like what are the three words that best define you? Like come on. I am COMPLEX. Those three words, those are the three words that best define me. But my husband recently said the one word that best describes this pandemic period is de-stabilizing. And yeah, I think he pretty much nailed it de-stabilizing. But if there’s one thing that a dancer’s good at, it’s stabilizing, think about that fight to really hold on to an attitude devant on releve or the mental and physical combat of a pirouette from a grand plie in second position. If it is possible for a human being to promenade in arabesque on point on another human being’s head, I’m going to link to that youtube video, by the way, in the show notes, then it is absolutely possible for us to stabilize ourselves in unstable times like these. It’s also no shock to me that ballet dancers are crushing it in this time. My favorites at the moment are Tiler Peck , obvi, uh, Skyler Brandt, Isabella Boyslton, James Whiteside and Maria , I’m going to botch the last name. I’m so, so sorry. Kochetkova I believe so, crushing it, but that’s, you know, literally part of our jobs as dancers to find and create balance. But beyond that, beyond dancers, I think about architects and the skyscrapers that they designed and think about the people that actually built those buildings. I think about teachers and the balancing act of managing information and actual human beings. I think about bakers and balancing time and temperature and the ingredients required to make like a perfect loaf of bread. Now obviously I can’t speak for bakers, but when I’m trying to find myself on my leg, it’s really a matter of, well, a couple of things. Number one, micro adjustments, small little changes and number two, trial and error. There will be many trials, there will be many errors, there will even be overcorrection, but eventually there will be correction. We will figure it out. We can figure it out. We get to figure it out and if you find yourself in a place of being unstable on your feet, write a letter to a friend or pull a Tom Hanks and make yourself a Wilson or the podcast can be your Wilson. I can be your Wilson. I am a Wilson. This is perfect.
With that, my friends, I will leave you for the day with love, with soap, and of course with funk. Thank you so much for listening.
Thought you were done? No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website. Third, TheDanawilson.com/podcast finally, and most importantly now you have a way to become a words that move member, so kickball, change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.
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