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 everybody and welcome to episode 17. I’m jazzed about it as usual. Um, in episode 16 I mentioned, well, I promised, I think that April’s podcasts would all be about bringing the joy, the silly, the bright, the creative. Um, and this episode is exactly that, but it is in disguise. This episode is about processing the darker side of the emotional spectrum. Sadness, stillness, anger, grief, anxiety, depression. Yes. All of those guys. And it’s really about coming out on the other side of them naturally without forcing anything. So thanks for joining me. Are you excited or what? Uh, before we dig into it though, of course, let’s do some wins this week. I have a handful of wins. I’m going to try not to say cooking again cause that’s what I said last week. I’m becoming way more comfortable in the kitchen and I’ve had some really killer dinners and leftovers. So I’m counting that as a win privately, secretly, and also now publicly. Okay fine. I’ll just call it a win. But I also want to shout out the handful of dance studios that I’ve been working with, eh, in the form of some digital support. Um, Dance ImpressionsMichelle Latimer Dance Academy and Cary Dance You guys have been so much fun to work with. I’m absolutely counting you and your students among my wins for the week. I’m just learning so much about, uh, transferring my syllabus and my teaching style into a different mode, different platform. Ultimately a different process and process is what we are talking about this week. So very appropriate. Um, let us, Oh, sorry. My bad. Let me give you your moment. Hit me with your wins. Say ’em out loud. It’s really important. Go.
Okay, great. If you need more time, please don’t let me stop you. Just hit pause. Keep going with your wins. It’s very important that you do that.
Okay. So the word process has been coming up a lot lately. Um on the podcast, I talk a lot about creative process and um, it’s also been coming up in like casual conversations. People saying things like, I don’t know, I’m still processing. Another example, the SBA, uh, assessing my application for the PPP, paycheck protection program. So fingers are crossed for that. Um, here’s another fun one that I heard recently. Uh, how long should I let this color process? Oh my God, I miss my hairdresser. Hehe, uh, yes, maybe you shouldn’t be, um, processing your own hair, doing your own color or cutting it. Just a thought. There are certain things that really ought to be left to the professionals and trust me in the COVID moment, we’re all experiencing new in terms of life and also our hair. I’m just going to encourage that you accept it for what it is and process that. Oh, also, here’s a fun game. Speaking of process, keep track of the number of times I say process in this episode and then do that many pushups per day starting now, whatever day it is, uh, for like the rest of the month or a month from now. And um, just go ahead and see how shredded you become. Look out beach bod. Even if it’s not for a year that you see a beach again, you’ll be ready for it when the day does come. Okay. So starting now it’s process time. So the word process when used as a noun means according to Merriam Webster, a usually fixed or ordered series of actions or events that lead to a result. Okay. Well this explains sort of the creative process in my mind. It’s something that moves forward or occasionally spirals. Um, but it’s always moving. And at the end there is a result. There’s this thing, whether it’s a show or a step or a film or you, you get the, gist in the last two episodes, I have talked to the seaweed sisters a little bit about the secrets of our process, which include saying yes, and to any idea. Um, and I also talked to Kat Burns in the last episode, which was 16. So let’s see, Seaweeds were 15. Kat Burns was 16, and Kat talked a lot. How processes differ depending on the format, um, or the medium, whether it’s scripted TV, a stage show or an improv show. Um, and honestly, if you haven’t listened to those episodes, go check those out. Some really golden nuggets in there. But long story short, every project and every person will have a slightly different creative process. So millions, so many different creative processes.
All right, so when used as a verb process means to refine or rectify or even to clarify, to me, it evokes this idea of sitting with something and chewing on it, digesting it until it’s gone. So that’s sort of a difference that gets stirred up in my mind. A creative process results in something, it leaves something at the end versus a process of refinement or clarifying results in having something completely digested. And then it either goes away or turns into something else completely. So there are probably as many forms of processing emotions as there are creative processes. It’s likely that everyone has their own way or even that their way might change over time or that they’ll use a combination of different ways to deal with different things. And I’m just fascinated by that. A handful of those styles of processing might include journaling or as I like to call it a thought download, which is where I try to just stream of consciousness dump whatever is in my brain. It goes through my arm and my hand and lands on a page or on a pixel via a keyboard or pen. Um, but there’s also therapy counseling, you know, talking to somebody. And then there’s also DMT or dance movement therapy, which is made up of countless techniques and exercises that are designed to ultimately create awareness of mind and body. I will be very clear, I am not a dance movement therapist. I use dance to tell stories. I use dance to make money and yes, sometimes I dance explicitly for fun. Occasionally I dance as therapy when I’m feeling down in the dumps as I’m sure several of us have, right? Oh and I am learning by the way that dance crying is actually a thing. Literally dancing up all the feels and then dancing them out via tears from your eyes. I love this concept and I really, really love the thought that the more aware we are of our minds and our bodies and the sensations within them, the more able we are to watch and regulate them and even generate new ones, right? Like new feelings in our body. We can control them, make decisions about them and our emotional experience of the world is effected. My job and a huge part of my life revolves around being in touch with my body and controlling it, being deliberate with its movements and using it to get a job done to craft shapes and phrases that convey emotion or information to give form to feelings to exteriorize the interior. That is my jam. That is what I do. Now, It’s the third week of April and I’ve been distancing since March 6th I have been regulating and controlling and deciding the crap out of my daily life. Are you ready for this? Okay. I coach on Monday, Wednesday and Friday I film new combos to send to studios on Saturdays. Sundays are seaweed sister sessions followed by deep household cleaning. Then I look at finances on money. Monday I do curbside produce pickup on Tuesday podcasts are Wednesdays, IgG live at five on Thursdays. All the food prep, all the dance classes, all the laundry are happening every day. And I also journal and I stretch daily. Whoa. So I really thought that I was processing these new circumstances along with all of my feelings pretty well. I seems to have found a schedule that appeared to be productive and fulfilling. Oh, but boy, spoiler alert, I certainly wasn’t processing, not all of it. Anyways, how did I find out that I wasn’t, Oh well, as you might imagine on a rainy day, the fourth in a row, I mind you, I had a breakdown, a full blown adult tantrum where hot water poured from my eye holes. And this tantrum was actually the good part. By the way. The water pouring out of my eyes was the release. It was the moment before that was actually super tough. The quiet before the storm, we’ll call it.
That was the moment where I was feeling heavy, slow, foggy, vapid, guilty, just gross. You name it. Dark end of the spectrum. I was feeling it. I tried to motivate myself up out of it. Go, go make up a new combo. I tried, my moves were lame. I stopped. I tried to write a new podcast, but my ideas were mangled and mushy, kind of half formed, gross. I stopped, I tried to make food. It was gross. Oh, you better believe I ate it anyways. And then I felt gross and then I stopped. I just felt stopped. All of it felt pretty stopped. I felt stuck like so many of us probably felt or are currently feeling and for a person who moves for a living, for a self-proclaimed movement master feeling stuck feels pretty awful. Now by default, I’m a person that’s a pretty positive thinker, captain, bright side, Susie sunshine. Like that is how I like to live my life. But I do believe that my life will round out with a natural distribution of emotions like 50% of the time I’ll be good or better. And then the other 50% of the time I’ll be sub good or bad or occasionally awful. Now for the record, I have no scientific evidence to back up that that’s actually how my life will round out. But I have a feeling that if you did analysis on like the past five years of my journals, you’d find some plot points that you could put on a graph and you’d probably be left with a pretty good looking bell-curve. So as I sat there feeling these awful things, I was sitting way at the tail end of my bell curve. I got on the phone for some coaching and this is what I asked my coach. I asked, how do you know when to sit with yourself and your big, ugly, deep dark thoughts? And when do you coach yourself out of it? When do you coach yourself off the ropes? When do you let captain bright side shake some sense into you? Well, here’s what my coach said, and by the way, let’s pause for the cause for a second because there are a lot of different coaches and styles of coaching. Now, there are the types that will break you down to build you up. And then there are the types that will give this air of being almighty all knowing, omnipotent, like they, they know you better than you know yourself and they know the answer to your question even before you know what you’re even asking. Yeah, those are not my coaches. My coaches honor me exactly as I show up. However, broken or built that may be, depending on the day and my coaches helped me see in myself a way that gives me the power to answer my own questions or to make my own decisions. So that’s the type of coaching I’m going in for right here.
So I asked my coach, how do I know how long I should sit with a negative feel? How do I know when it’s time to regulate and step in and do the self coaching or when is it time to move? Like move yourself out of it. Of course she didn’t answer. Instead she asked, okay, what exactly is this negative feel that you’re feeling? And the first word that came to my mind was stuck. I feel stuck. And she said, “okay, whereinyourbodydoyou feelstuck?” And I said, after a little bit of checking in and thinking I had a feeling she might be expecting like my heart or my throat or my forehead, which are all totally acceptable answers to where do you feel stuck? But I genuinely like I felt it everywhere. I felt it inside my body, every inch of it. I felt it in my blood and she was unfazed by this. Uh, she was a stonewall. She was like, “okay, great. Let’s talk more about your blood.” Which is so funny to say out loud right now, but it was a perfectly reasonable question in that moment. She asked, “what color is your blood?” And I was like, you know, close my eyes and really try to visualize my stuck blood. And I decided that it’s definitely gray but not even like a full, beautiful, deep, dark rich gray but like gray at 50% opacity, like puny, sad, weak gray. And then she said, “all right, got it. Okay, so, um, is your 50% opacity gray blood? Is it moving? Does it have motion to it?” And I said, no, it is definitely still, it is what is stuck. It is the thing that is like freezing up like concrete. And she’s like, “okay, great, great, great. So tell me more about your 50% opacity, concrete blood.” And I just kept explaining the image, my made up idea of what my blood looked like and moved like inside my body. And at a certain point all that digging in was starting to make me tense. So instead of just feeling stuck, I was now feeling tight and I said, man, my now my skin feels too tight right now. I’m really tense. And she said, “Ohgood, tell me about your skin.” And I said, it’s, it’s brittle. And she was like, “okay, okay, how else does it feel? Does it have movement?” And it was like, no, no, it’s, it’s too pulled tight to have movement. And she says, “okay, well how is it normally?” And I thought for a second, and I said, I think it’s normally kind of like a plum. You know what? I remember the book To Kill a Mockingbird. I think that’s where I got this from. I think there’s an explanation of skin in that book where they, uh, Harper Lee explained skin as like the skin of a plum. Like it’s supple. It would peel back if it got snagged, but my skin was definitely not that. So as my coach kept asking me to explain my skin, I was coming up with ideas like it’s not definitely not a plum, it’s more like a grapefruit, like thick, porous and, and, and instead of housing a grapefruit, my grapefruit skin is trying to contain a watermelon. And then she said, “okay, good. Let’s go back to your blood. How’s your blood doing?” I was like, are you kidding me? Okay. All right, fine. Was talking about my blood some more. I’m explaining my blood, I’m getting emotional. Then she says, all right, how’s your skin feeling? I’m like, it’s tight. It’s too tight. And she’s like, okay, let’s go back to the blood. Has the blood doing. So we, long story short, we bounced back and forth between talking about my concrete blood that was now bubbling to my grapefruit skin that’s trying to contain a watermelon. And then she asked one last time, how’s your blood? And I said, well, it’s not stuck anymore. The stuck was gone and it was replaced by, you know, blubbering hot waterfall of other emotions. But stuck was definitely gone. So the answer to my question, how do you know how long you should sit with the negative fields? Well, sit with them, be with them, experience them deeply until they’re gone. The answer to my question, when is it time to move yourself out of it is it’s time to move into it. The only way out of it is through it. And the answer to my question, when is it time to regulate? Oh, the answer to that is it’s not time to regulate. It’s time to process. So the next time you’re experiencing life on the downside of the bell curve, stop, look and listen. There’s a good song for that to your body and process. Now the process that I used talking about my, um, now the process that I used revolved really heavily around my awareness of the sensations in my body and my imagination. I mean, come on. Gray, half opacity, concrete blood, grapefruit skin. I mean what an imagination. That is like A plus super kindergartener type style of imagination. This process means giving a color, giving emotion, giving texture, and giving names to this sensation in your body, like to a high degree of detail over and over and over again. And that process might really resonate with you, especially if you’re a dance type that checks in with your body regularly. But it also may not resonate with you. It might not be your style of processing emotions, but it was hugely effective and profoundly moving for me. So I had to share it. My interest and curiosity in, um, we’ll call it mind meets body processing is absolutely peaking. So you better believe I will be getting into, uh, some DMT and other processes for processing emotions in the upcoming weeks and months and probably years. So take a second to think about it for yourself. How do you process emotions? How do you process the events of your life? I would love to hear how you do it. You can message me on the gram @danadaners or you can send me a message via the contact page on my website, which is theDanawilson.com.
All right, my friend, I hope that that um, glimpse at my process for processing emotions gets you thinking about how you process yours. Um, then that is it for today. Thank you so much for listening. Stay safe. Say Whoa. Stay safe, stay soapy and keep it funky.
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 wards that moved me members, 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, hello. Hello. How are you doing? How’s everybody? Man, if you are like me, then these days are going by so quickly. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s, I’m just being inside and so many days are the same. Um, maybe it’s that I’m filling my schedule every minute of it. Uh, but it’s strange, this sensation of time passing and standing still all at the same time. Maybe it’s just me. I don’t know. Um, this episode, ah, I’m so excited for it. I’m so excited for you to listen to my guest today. Kat Burns. She’s one of my favorite well people period, but also one of my favorite choreographers and she shares so much, um, tremendously valuable insight in this episode. I’m jazzed about it. Uh, but before that, of course we have to do a quick round of wins. My win this week is that I am becoming a person, day by day, meal by meal. Uh, I am becoming a person that is confident in the kitchen. I’m having more fun and I’m having more creative freedom in the kitchen. And I think that’s a win. It’s something that for me has always been a kind of point of insecurity. Um, my husband traditionally is the cook of the household and I’m having so much fun, uh, exploring a bit, really digging that. Okay, so now you go, what’s going well in your world?
You might need a little bit more time. So I encourage you to pause right here if you’re really, really winning, which I really, really hope you are. Um, but this episode is just, it’s something else we gotta get to it. We’re jumping in. Ladies and gentlemen, the one and only Kat Burns.
Dana: Yes. Kat Burns. Welcome to the podcast.
Yeah! Oh, I love wees and woo hoos and yeas, it feels so good. Just smile and I cannot not smile when I, I think Kat Burns. So welcome to the podcast. Introduce yourself for those who may not know who you are, those fools,
Kat: Those nincompoops! Um, people call me Kat burns. I’m Kathryn, uh, Kathyrn Burns, AKA, you know, Kat Burns is my like cool choreo alias. I suppose that that is just kind of taken over. And I’m a choreographer mostly for scripted comedies.
Nice. Um, I really love intro asking people to introduce themselves because it’s sometimes a different story than what the bio would read. Um, uh, your bio leads with, and I think it should, your Emmys your double. Is it two?
It’s two, right. She’s a two timer.
She’s sure. Just a two timer, a measly two time Emmy winner. Um, and I do think it’s, it’s cool to like acknowledge the wins, but it’s also speaks a lot to you that you do not lead with the accolades, but rather with the work itself. And I love your body of work. I love it so much. I love it. Primarily because it’s funny, but also because it’s diverse. Um, can you talk a little bit about the range of work that you do and what is the difference between a digital or scripted format or you do also a lot of live work. I know you came up through UCB, like what is the difference really truly when it comes to choreography between all those different formats.
Oh goodness. Well I appreciate your kind words cause you know, I’m a huge fan of yours and I believe I introduced myself on a street corner and I was like, Hi. Hi. You guys are awesome. Do you want to do my UCB show? And you’re like, okay, great.
I recall, I recall. It’s so funny. I do recall, I recall because I, well it was a seaweed sisters related, um, acknowledgement and the seaweed sisters, uh, Jlilian Meyers, Megan Lawson and myself, we don’t get recognized outside of dancers very often. Um, and when we were not in a dance studio setting, we were literally on the street corner. Uh, so it, it made me feel like, Oh my God, pay attention. This is happening. You guys this, the seaweed sisters, are a thing, we’re being recognized.
It’s like five years ago, I want to say.
Yeah, it was a while back. Yeah. Oh, cool. Um, so thank you. Thank you for your fandom. We can, this is a safe place where we can absolutely be gushing over each other. So don’t let it stop. Um, but I am so curious about the different, um, uh, places that your work lives.
Yeah. So there’s, it’s a, it’s a multi folded, I was gonna say two fold, but it’s uh, you know, lots of folds type an origami fold of answers if you will. Um, I, I think what’s really fun about working scripted comedy or scripted in general is that the choreography is always dependent on the scene. And so by default I’ve been able to hire a lot of experts in a specific genre and then play within story, but still making it proper. Um, and so whether it be like a tango or a musical theater, traditional dance in the street vibe, or a tap dance or a fill in the blank, or even just like specifics that are funny or trying to make, like one of the tricky things was trying to make ’em like a viral video. Like, you know how like video or people like quote unquote dancing bad. Why? What’s the tipping point? Like why is it popular? I need to like recreate those moments as a choreographer when you have two people, it’s like the note was like, it’s too good, it’s too good. And I’m like, it’s not, it’s just like when you have two people dancing together in unison, it’s automatically going to seem more better, more, better. Just the word I like to use because it’s like, I don’t like to say something’s bad. I like to say it can be more better.
It can be more and better and you are the more better maker. Um, I think part of that recipe is definitely accessibility. Like you don’t want to choreograph steps that only a trained dancer could do. So it’s like every, every man dance. Um, and do you do a good job at choreographing dance on a normal non dancing type characters?
I like to call them dance enthusiasts.
Dance enthusiasts. That’s way kinder than what I call them. I call them, I call them normies.
Normies that’s cute.I just think Norm McDonald dancing. When you say normies.
Many Norm McDonald’s. Normies plural. Um, uh, so how many episodes of television would you say you have choreographed to take a ballpark for me?
Well, I actually did a show a year ago celebrating a hundred, cause I was like, when I graduated college, people are like, what’s your dream job? And I said I wanted to choreograph for TV and film, but I have no idea how to do it. And you know, I had to celebrate that because I was like, I guess I figured it out. Yeah, you did. And so well sometimes you’ve got to celebrate a little milestones cause we can be so hard on ourselves on a daily basis that we’re not doing enough or creating enough or being disciplined enough or right.
Girl, I am here for celebrating. Actually I just started a new podcast habit. I start every episode with wins. Were I just talk a little bit about what’s going well.
That’s awesome. I used to have a thing where I would keep champagne in the fridge cause there was always going to be a reason to celebrate.
Yes, I am about that life. And now since we’re in lockdown you’re going to need to keep at least five cause you can’t be leaving. The house as often.
Um, okay. So let’s back up a teeny tiny bit. You mentioned after college when they asked you that question and you answered, I want to choreograph TV and film but you didn’t know how, what was your next step?
Uh, well it was more of like that’s a, that’s a fantasy job that doesn’t really exist
Or not for you.
Right. Uh, so I worked in post-production for years and thought I could use my degree and be an editor and I worked in post houses and like lob dailies and patched digie betas, for recording. Like lobbied editor’s reels over and was just like in the machine room learning about editing and the more responsibility I got, the more anxious I got. But I started, you know, I studied film in college and Mmm. So I was already doing that. And then, you know, you talked about the difference between scripted and stage and then I started at UCB right when they opened their doors pretty much like I was working next door at the clothing shop, um, when they went door to door to meet their neighbors and I was like changing and I stuck my foot out and I was like, “I’ll be right with you!” and my mom was in town and was like, “Hi, welcome to Native.” I was like, “she doesn’t work here. I’ll be right out”. And,
And they were like, you’re in.
And they were like, you’re funny, you should take internships. And I was like, great. And then I just started being a part of that community, like from the ground floor. And so I learned the art of choreographing for a script in a way to like heighten the joke without distracting. And I was already, I’d got a dance agent. I was taking Aisel’s hip hop class. Yes. After like six months of living in LA. So I got the agent, I was dancing sporadically doing like show girly type musical theater, tall girl jobs and realized quickly that I was much taller than everyone else in LA.
Tiny. We’re all micro types. Yeah.
They move so fast? How did they get down to the floor and in one count, tiny legs. Tiny legs. Yeah. I was like, I still have my bevel. You know, you gotta have a sensible walk and a good bevel if you’re tall.
Oh, you ma, you have to have a sensible bevel no matter what I would argue. But definitely if you’re tall. Um, okay. I wa I want to branch in a hundred different directions. I am taking notes.
Uh, but I very frazzled. I didn’t even answer your first question.
I’m pretty sure you did. We talked a little bit about formats and the places that your work lives, which is on 160 episodes of television primarily, right. But also on stages because you do that.
Yeah. And I just did a musical here in LA and I, I’ve done like comedy musicals and LA, uh, which obviously like stage is, is much more collaborative I think is the biggest difference. You have the writers in the room sometimes or you have the director in the room and you have the actors in the room and you have time and you’re playing and you’re creating, I mean obviously like a, the UCB schedule is like, learn it, do it, done. It’s very quick.
And that’s the point.
Yeah. Yeah. Your dress rehearsals off in the performance cause no one’s getting paid and to learning learning curve. But I just did this musical with a wonderful New York team. The musical was called Found and we did it at, um, it’s, Iama Theater Company ’s musical. It was our first ever done at the LA Theater Group. And it, got closed, you know, three weeks before it was supposed to finish. It was New York team. Um, and they were so collaborative and awesome and I was like, Oh, this is what process is, you get to actually create in a room with creatives. Yes. Often on television schedules. You’re often trying to get into the minds of creatives. Like you’re each department heads given a specific ask very, very quickly and within like a 10 minute or less creative conversation, you have to then go off and do your work, present it, change it on the fly if it needs to be changed and be like, this is what I think you want. And from all your references, ID do deduced yeah. Anyways, This was the dance pretty much.
Um, ah, okay. That’s fascinating. So a difference between stage and film being, the amount of time you have and the people that are part of these creative conversations.
Everyone’s process is different. I mean, I think a lot of choreographers, and this also totally depends on the budget of the show they give. It has a budget for rehearsals and the choreographer can have a skeleton crew. They can kind of like massage the choreography and change it and get it to a way and have a few days and have a process. But if you’re like, hi, hired for two days, you have one day of rehearsal, slash prep, slash casting, slash creative slash, whatever, and the next thing you know is you’re on set trying to like leave this dance with a bunch of people you just met. You’re also trying to figure out their personalities and how not to step on toes, but also do your dance, be professional, be fast, pleasant and you know, protect the dance and protect the dancers but also serve the story and serve the process of that. That is making television.
Okay. I had to jump out right there because that’ll just happen real, real fast and I want to make sure that you all caught all of that. Kat just gave a lightspeed masterclass in what it means to be a choreographer. Yes, we decide what the dance is, but then we must lead the dance or teach the dance and occasionally that’s to people that we’ve never met. We have to navigate so many personalities, not just the dancers, but the entire teams. Then we have to protect the dancers, of course, meaning looking out for their working conditions and making sure they’re taking breaks and well taken care of, et cetera. But also we’ve got to be fast and I mean we don’t have to be, but it really helps if you’re pleasant or easy to get along with. And then of course there’s the whole serving the story and serving the big machine that makes the TV show or the stage show or the music video or the fill in the blank. I think it’s super important to remember, especially for the young aspiring choreographers that being a choreographer means so much more than making up the steps. Okay. Let’s get back into it. Kat and I talked about the many hats that she wears, the many jobs that she’s had and the thoughts that led her to become an Emmy winning choreographer.
Dana: What was the, um, what was the step or the chase or the kickball change that took you from editing room to, uh, dance studio or choreography, I guess?
Um, I was always that kid that did a million things so differently. Like when I was young. It was like suck or student dadadada that every dance class imaginable. I was always booked, right. Like I my and I would like highlight all of my times that like college thing happened and I’d be idea as an adult to just do one thing stressed me out and made me so anxious. I felt like I was making like, like signing a death sentence of being like I’m going to do this for the rest of my life and I was super scared. Um, so I think a lot of times I just did a bunch of side jobs. Just that I wasn’t working towards a career necessarily. Like I went, I went, I went to college. I thought state school was supposed to be the thing that you do. And I was like such a rule follower that I had a hard time listening to myself and people were like, I remember like the advice being like what do you think about when you’re at a stoplight? I was like, Oh like I’m always making up things in my head. And even when I was like bored at concerts, I would just zone out cause I’m like, no one’s dancing. This is boring. And I would like choreograph something in my head and I would feel better. And I just realized if I wasn’t dancing or moving, I was sad. I honestly feel that a lot currently with what we’re going through and like I’ll feel such an angst for the world and my heart would be so heavy. And then all, I’ve been just dancing in my studio for hours on end because it’s the only thing that makes me feel relief and joy. Um, so I, I think, I think I, I worked in posts, I thought I wanted to be an editor. I had a million side jobs, I was a paramount page. And then I would like work at a steak house. And like I served, well when I first graduated college I thought I was going to be a Rockette. I made it through all of the, the cuts and stuff and then they just never called.
Well, I’m so glad they didn’t because we got to have you instead. I get that dream though. Oh my gosh. And that audition process is brutal. Congratulations. Holy smokes.
What was my first professional audition ever, ever. And then at the end of the audition, um, this is the second day, they’re taking all my measurements and I said, “I just wanted to let y’all know this was my first audition and you were so nice. Oh really? Oh, is it? Okay.” I had a four by six picture. I just didn’t know. I went to the University of Missouri. I didn’t do like, I never went to New York for a summer or anything. I had never taken from like professionals ever. Actually.
I love this. That’s such a great example of all the grooming in the world doesn’t ensure that you will get your foot in the door and at the same time you can be totally ungroomed and come through the side door or the back door and do phenomenally well.
Yeah, I mean, I envy people that had all this, this massive education and like mine was just like the local dance studio or the dance team. And that was that. And I just was always dancing in my room. Or like at the time it was recording VHS is and learning the dances of Britney Spears, you know, or whatever, studying for exams while watching Cats, the VHS recording of the Broadway show.
All right. Jumping out again this time I had to do it because I think it’s very, very interesting that the thought of doing one thing made Kat anxious and propelled her into doing so many seemingly odd jobs that really stands out to me because to so many people, there’s contentment in doing one thing and having one career and having their job. I think that a lot of people out there would actually feel anxious at the thought of doing all the many things that Kat did from serving steaks and working retail to working as a paramount page, um, pages by the way. Uh, give tours and direct guests and do a great number of tasks on the paramount lot. Um, but dang, she, she even worked in an editing bay. I guess what’s so special to me about Kat and about her journey is that at least from the outside looking in, all of those experiences gave or refined the skills that made her a great choreographer. Yes. Like the dance, the passion, the love of movement and moving has always been there for her. It always brought tremendous joy. But what brought success was the combination of that love of dance plus her many, many unique skills and experiences. Let’s jump back in and hear about the one moment. Well, the one heartbreak that changed the way Kat thought about being a choreographer.
It took a heartbreak. Uh, I was with, I was with someone for eight years, my whole entire twenties, and when that ended, I was so heartbroken that I had no choice but to make myself happy. And that was after I’d been doing UCB classes. I liked dance at Christmas times. I had like dance gigs and I was still doing a million jobs. But there was something about that timing that I was so desperately sad. Like, he kind of was my whole life and when that ended I was like, it was a very clear change of thought. I had been doing this musical that I choreographed and was in called Freak dance the dirtiest forbidden boogaloo at UCB and Matt Besser wrote it, And the premise is whoever dares dance the nastiest wins. And it was like a spoof of all the dance flicks and like the white girl learns how to be poor so she can be a good dancer they lose the community center and then they have to do this dance battle and they make just enough money to win back the community center, yada yada.
I’m so glad that exists.
We did it every Friday for two and a half years at UCB and then one day they were like, we’re making this into a movie. And we all thought we would get replaced by everyone bigger and better. The only person that got replaced was the 20 year old playing the mom and she was replaced by Amy Poehler. So like that makes sense. Um, and right around the time of this breakup, I was filming this movie and they had asked me to like storyboard, what some of the dance numbers would look like. And I was like, I’m not an artist, but I knew it. And there was, there was a something called Work that Butt, and I was like, well, what if there was like a butt flower from overhead? And I was like, butts coming in at like an encapsulated her. And then she had this reveal and was a different outfit, but like storyboarded what these two, they couldn’t afford anyone else. It was also, Mmm. So that was my first job and I was also in it and I also didn’t have an assistant, so it was crazy. And we shot it all in 13 days. It was an original movie musical. With original music with the non dancers as leads and like Drew Droege is one of my favorite comedians and one of the stars and Hal rudnickthey were like the two world’s best dancers. And then we hired, Matt Besser was obsessed with America’s best dance crew. So we hired like Quest crew and The Beat FreaksAnd, um, anyways, so like all of these comedians were like dance dancing in front of all of these crews and I’m just there heartbroken. And I had this epiphany that I was like, Oh, I thought my whole life was supposed to be love and appreciation from this one person. And if they weren’t there I would crumble. And I quickly said to the cast, I was like, I love you guys so much and I need you guys so much. So that was a pivotal moment for me as a creative to have experiences with the people I was having camaraderie with at the time. My coworkers were my family and I would experience and be alive with all of this creative camaraderie that got me through a dark time. And it was just, it’s kind of stuck. It’s kind of stuck with me. Like I, I really, I really feel fortunate that I’m able to like dive into a project with an open heart because I truly look at my collaborators. I mean you like, we’ve gotten to know each other through working together and I have so much love for you but we haven’t, yeah, separate doing something together really. I mean like maybe a few times, but it’s always like let’s get a glass of wine. Great. I see we’re working together. I’m going to like suck up as much yummy hang time as I can. Cause I don’t know, again, cause we’re both busy as the way LA is. Everybody has something next, you know.
Well that is the way LA was my friend.
Certainly people are still like, Oh I can’t, I’ve got a zoom it two. Or Oh I can’t, I stopped like I said 1130 this morning. And I was like, can we do four? Can we push back?
Kat and I talked for a while about the way the LA and the entertainment industry are uh, maneuvering through this COVID crisis. But the radio waves are pumped and coursing with that talk and there’s just so much other goodness to come in this episode. I thought I might just leap frog over that if you don’t mind. And skip ahead to my favorite video submission ever. And the importance of good lip syncing because why not?
When you get an audition submission request from your agent for a Kat Burns project, you go, ALL IN, because working for you is such a treat. Really, truly, I am a sucker for a lovely process. So I got this audition notification and I was like, Oh yeah, I can do this. It’s asking for a doo-wop style background singer and she’s singing to her mom. Um, I happened to be in Denver at the time that I got this notification and it was with my mom and it was in my sister’s gorgeous house and it was like, okay, yeah, this is, this is a no brainer. So I taught my sister the shots and she filmed it for me and I lightly choreographed this thing with just like a chain here and a hip hip here. Nothing like crazy cause I had watched the show before and it’s never, um, it’s never meant to be the like, uh, sit down and watch this dance. It’s like you could do this dance It was a sidebar side side thought of mine to be a dance commentator for dance, YouTube videos in that same, in that same voice. Okay. So made, made the an audition submission sent it in. And I don’t remember if you texted me directly or if my agent did, but you were like, that is obnoxious and hysterical. And will you assist me on this project? Yeah, it was so funny. It was also cool to get my family a peek into my world, right? Like, uh, audition submissions happen or happened pretty regularly and in a very like in a three hour turnaround, I’m expected or asked to create a, create a thing, memorize the lines, make up the moves, capture it, edit it and submit it. And so they got to be there for that. That was super fun. And then
What I loved about your video too is like, a lot of times, you know, as much as I say like I want good acting, the lip sinking is really important. Like, I trust that dancers can nail a dance step, right? It’s really important to me is how you’re emoting. So I see you as this like 1960s, like, you know, shoo bop, shoo whatawhata to dancer. Um, and you totally embodied that character and the lip sinking is really important. Like, um, I had an audition for Carly Rae Jepsen and it was, um, well holding an audition for her and it was like two backup singers that were dancing. And so in the audition I was like, you guys, you’re moving your heads too much. Like you’ll never believe that they’re singing into a mic to like actually pretend like you’re seeing into the mic. Um, don’t you have to, it’s a strange thing to like not whip your hair around because a lot of times dancers really aren’t that focused on- on being the star and being seen and like with our hair around our face and like make some sexy faces was not really about the face, you know?
Right. I have this theory that we’re dancers are um, attractive, not necessarily because we’re good looking but because movement attracts your eye. Like if you imagine a jungle setting and a bush rustles over here, your eye goes to that and I think dancers have gotten really are the good ones anyways, have gotten good about being attention, getting when they need to and just the right amount of rustle versus being distracting. And especially if you’re in a tight shot, moving your head around is distracting and its as you mentioned, very plainly, not the way that background singers would do it. Um, that’s a great consideration. I think it’s an important skill and maybe we don’t spend enough time on it.
And you also the the why it’s hard is that to believe that we believably be a good lip syncer you have to sing out loud so your breath is different. So although it looks like an easy dance when you’re actually singing out loud, the, the, the beats are counterintuitive to like, like the pickups of the lyrics are going to be before the one. And it’s tricky to get your brain around the lyrics and have your body do what the music is doing. As you’re acting, and singing out loud and thinking about your breath, you can’t just breathe through your nose and make whatever weird sounds you need to make to get through the aggression of the dance
It’s a much different skill. I came across this issue, uh, a handful of times like hands full, like multiple hands, like NBA basketball player hands full of times working on In the Heights where we had huge groups of dancers, a part of musical numbers, but we weren’t the people that recorded the vocals.
We weren’t the people that um, you know, not all 150 of them have the script, you know, for a chunk of time during rehearsal we would sit down with pages and learn the lyrics. But even that is expected to happen quite quickly. And not a lot of dancers have the same memory for words that we have for moves. So it, it really is a special skill. I suggest that everybody listening to this podcast right now pick a a movie musical moment, whether it’s LA LA land opening number or anything from crazy ex-girlfriend challenge yourself, give yourself how much would, how much time would you say is allocated to learning lyrics for an episode of crazy ex? When we did the tap number? Um, the prescription one, it wasn’t that long. I want to say that was like maybe 30 minutes.
Well, probably like it was like 30 minutes at the top of rehearsal and I’ve actually had an, I had a big audition in New York. Um, there’s a really great show out now called, uh, Dispatches from elsewhere. It’s Jason Segel ’s new show on AMC. I worked on the finale number and they’re singing and dancing, spoiler alert. Um, and I had to just teach the lyrics real fast because people saying the lyrics was as important as the dancing and there was this really amazing dancer. And then I looked back at my video because I don’t like making cuts, so I just filmed everybody, I really want to see everybody. I want to properly give everyone a chance to be seen by me cause I don’t come to New York, I don’t have auditions much. Um, so anyways, he was like, I was like booked and then I looked and I was like he didn’t Lip sync, a word. And on most of the jobs I do dancers get Face-time like closeups and like, Oh and I’m so, so for “antidepressants” and the, it was all, it was all like fluoxitine, fluoxetine, Our lawyers won’t let us say brand names. Like it was very tricky vernacular. Yes. Medical terms on top of that medical terms, you get pills, pills, therms. Um, but, we had, we had a, we have one day of rehearsal so you could like overnight rehearse it. That’s true. I remember on the day Rachel changed, she changed the lyrics. So what’s tricky is that you had to learn it and then on the day after you’ve been practicing, I think you said change the name of the dog and then change this lyric we’ll re-record it in post. So you guys had to say lyrics out loud. This was what was 30 minutes or less. You had to say lyrics out loud that did not match the audio you are hearing all while doing choreography, you’re fast tap dance and then staying in line and it was like super precision based and like you’re high, you’re a little high here on your airplane arm you need a little bit lower.
We’re taking in all of the, you know, the movement notes that we’re used to, but there’s also not just the learning of the lyrics but the unlearning of the old lyrics and then the relearning of the new lyrics. This is great. Really, truly, if you’re listening, make that an additional challenge. If you’re listening, you’re listening, you’re listening. If you’re, if you’re hearing, um, then yeah, try to learn a thing in 30 minutes and then change it, but don’t change the thing that you’re playing back. That song has to say the same. Your lyrics change. Oh my gosh.
And the timing varies slightly and then the moves or shot. It’s like you have to adjust your timing and your blocking based on what the steady cam operators doing or, or at any point in time, the show runner who’s a showrunner is basically the one that hires all of the writers. They’re like the head, they don’t usually say head writer, but they’re the one who like keeps a tone of the show in general, you know, on the right track and everything and they’re the one that’s sold the show in general. But at any point they can come in and say, why are you doing this? Or, or like, um, or like for that number it was like as you guys were holding, I like added a like a little, a little bop. Yeah. Yeah. And then, um, just constantly finding it until you, like for me it’s like playing until you find what makes you laugh and like got there. That’s it. That’s it. That’s it. That’s it. Okay. Do that. And then, and then at any point someone could say, no, don’t bounce. And so you’ve just been rehearsing it with the bounce and something as simple as that.Like your body wants to bounce, but you can’t. Um, tricky. I don’t know. It’s tricky. And then, and then when I favorite things to like hark on park, her harp, whatever you look that up as I finish this, this tale of woes, but basically. Once it’s cut the end of that she goes Mmm. Basically it’s just like, Oh you guys are, Oh you don’t want to dance anymore. Okay. Like going from dance or to pedestrian and now
Oh wait, this is one of my favorite things to do.
Walk like a dancer. Like it’s hard cause we do that in real life. I act sporadically. And um, I was in a commercial and I had to walk to the elevator and I was wearing heels and they were like, um, excuse me Kathryn, you’re like standing like pretty cause I was like beveling,
Your just like, it’s my Rockette in me.
I just like can’t, you know like when we’re in heels and more like a tight skirt, as a dancer you walk differently naturally. So I had to be like, Oh, I have to ditch how I naturally walk and walk pedestrian, just go to the elevator, like for don’t dance, walk to the elevator, don’t sit in your hip. Pretty
Just pretend like you don’t know how to walk in heels as well.
It’s actually for me, kind of difficult to navigate the middle ground between like dancing like a pro dancer, like JT, backup dancer, pro dancer and dancing like a non dancer that moves well. And then dancing goofy like uh, your, your UCB show right now. Raggle Taggle Dance Hour which I do want to give the floor to for a second cause it’s amazing. We did an opening number, which I want you to talk about, give a little context. Um, but I watched the footage back and I looked at myself, I was like, dude, you were bad dancing. And that’s not the goal. The goal is actually to be dancing really well, but not to be a dancer. And so that’s another layer of intricacy.
Yeah. I think that’s what I’ve found with my work. It’s like, it’s, it’s easy, not easy, hard, not hard, but we’re properly living in a world. Right. So like the reference for this number was the pink Mr emus pink windmill kids, the mill kids or something. It’s like an eighties dance show.
We’re going to link it because it’s, it’s a game changer.
So I, the end of season one wanted the cast of crazy ex to recreate this video and I had that had the costume department hand dye sweats to match the color palette of the early eighties.
This is what we call full out.
And then obviously everyone was like tired or busy and so they’ve just been sitting in my storage for four years.
The costumes or the people that were tired?
The costume department ready to go whenever there very expensive to keep, but it was worth it at the end. But we did the, we recreated the opening video finally. And my dream came true and it’s like feel like, like why it’s so funny and enjoyable is because they are trying to hit it so hard, these little children and it happens to be sloppy and fast, but like you have to go for it with the Gusto and energy of like this is the best thing anyone’s ever seen. And it’s like eighties. You just have to hit really hard. Also like nineties hip hop. You have to hit it so hard that your every bone hurts and it doesn’t look like much or just punching. But like woo, there’s a difference. Um, so you have to hit it with full exuberance.
There is a difference. It’s those shows. Okay. I want to talk about something you just, you mentioned, um, I, well blah, blah words. So I wanted to ask how do you do funny, but I think you’ve already answered my question when you’re talking about the crazy ex episode, uh, with the pharmaceutical drugs and we’re just sitting there, Bob like hands on knees just bopping. And you said you just play with something until it makes you laugh. Is that your general approach to humor and dance
Kind of, I mean, and even like in a good way I, I’ve said this before, but like, um, I think it’s a lot of times when I approach my work, like if it wasn’t funny it’d be cool. No, like we’re trying to like properly live in a genre and a lot of times it feels a bit like a puzzle in my brain for a while. So like it’s important for me to know the tone of a show and to know what their funny is. Like I worked on workaholics and their village is much different than the crazy ex village. What they find funny and their sense of humor, I mean comedy is also super relative, just like dance. There’s like a wide array of good dancing or what you think is good. Right? I can’t tell you how many times a script is like Fosse and you’re like, but what about Fosse are they referencing to? Do they want it to be hyper-sexual? Do they want it to be awkward? Cause like when I think about Fosse it’s like, well he’s, you know, he did like he was inverted, he had, he had musicality that matched his movements, you know what I mean? So it’s like trying to find what it is about that reference that they like. So you kind of have to like get in the brains of the reference and then play within it and then for me it’s like, because I’ve studied comedy and I’ve, I spent my whole childhood watching movie musicals and things like it’s um, I dunno, there’s like a, there’s a, there’s a good or bad or creative process you have to like know when to put the pencil down I guess. So for me it’s like finding it and then sometimes like in crazy ex we kind of found this thing of like, Oh gross. Okay. Yeah, that’s it. That’s it. And you kind of have to push the envelope. I mean there was like S and P issues to standards and practices. So we’re a network show. You can’t just create whatever you want. It has to be approved. And West side story is super particular and has like legislation against you doing like exact choreography, same with Fosse foundation. So, but you know, choreographers don’t own their work and aren’t unionized. So you know
Kat Burns, enter Kat Burns the organizer. I wasn’t sure if we would get to this point and I know that not everybody listening is a choreographer, but I do think that this is really important too. Everyone in creative fields, no matter what they are, uh, choreographers right now, specifically an organization called Choreographers Alliance, which is a nonunion organization are working really, really hard to win choreographers SAG-AFTRA contracts for our work because unlike everybody else on a TV, film or digital sets, choreographers do not have the protection of those union contracts, which means no healthcare, no pension and no residual structure. Um,
No minimum hours work, uh, overtime or anything like that.
So Kat is a staple in the community that’s working to win us an agreement that would support us in that way. Thank you so much.
It just seems like it needs to happen. Everyone else, literally everyone else on set, unless you’re in an assistant role, has union protection and then they have it for SDC, which is stage directors and choreographers Guild. So for Broadway shows, Vegas shows some touring shows, they get a royalty every time their work is used, they own their work, they can, you know, that’s obviously not going to happen necessarily in TV because it’s called a work for hire clause. If you’re a freelancer, um, and writers as well, like, but if they use their work again, they have to pay them. Um, and if you have the union then let’s say dirty dancing, right? Like that’s been like Kenny Ortega . His work has been used so many times and he’s never made any money past that. Same with Vince Patterson from smooth criminal, you create like how easy would it be to be, Oh, we’re going to use this choreography. We’re not going to hire Kenny because he’s off directing in Canada. We’re going to pay him X amount of money just like you would a song. And then the, and then like they can just take the exact choreography and never pay the choreographer or anything. It’s so broken. It’s so broken. But we did it. And it’s about celebrating the wins. As you say. I was asked to recreate Christine and the Queens “Tilted”
Werk, my favorite,
It’s one of my favorites for Better Things for season one. And, and the reason why I was asked this, cause I work with non dancers and they, and it was, it was the whole family. It was the mom, the grandmother and the two daughters. But put on a performance for you. I don’t want to ruin it if you haven’t seen the end of season one.
I haven’t done, I’m going to, I’m writing it down right now. That sounds fascinating. I already,
You already know what’s coming, but it’s okay. There’ll be emotional and beautiful. And I said they were like, we already got the rights to the music and everything and I was like, well did they pay the choreographer? And the awesome line producer was like, well, let me look into it versus saying we’ve already paid. But, um, they actually paid the choreographer for the usage of that work. Um, but that was a big win. They paid the court and I said, you have to credit, there is no union. Like I wouldn’t get credit. And then the person who originally choreographed, it wouldn’t get credit. Right? Like they can do whatever they want. But I said the original choreographer, Marion Motin and I was like, you have to say originally choreographed by and then like adapted by me cause it’s not my choreography, but I was hired as quote unquote THE choreographer. But I need, I just think it’s interesting because now people are doing like Tik Tok videos and they understand currency of dance and like even in this time we’re giving away or work for free, we’re teaching classes for free. We’re trying to help the community. But like, you know, this is how people make their money.
Ah, I, I do want to dig into more of those technical issues and I want to celebrate you going to bat for an instance like that, which I’m sure happens all the time and I’m sure that choreographers who, uh, maybe don’t have as much experience or aren’t as in passionate about the subject as you are, wouldn’t even to ask if that had happened. So I’m really glad that you spoke about that. I think that’s super important.
Choreographers definitely have asked me like even what should my minimum rate be? So like if you’re getting a job and you don’t know what to ask or even how to run a set or anything, like reach out to someone that you know that’s working if you don’t have an agent yourself. And then also I think it’s important that we ask those harder questions. People are only going to give you what you fight for, you know, otherwise they’ll just take advantage and also to know when to back off. I have a solid rule of threes. Like I’ll ask something like three different ways just to make sure that I was heard. And then the answer the third time is still no, I go, okay, well I at least try it.
Here we go. I at least tried thrice. Yeah man, I really wish we had more time to dig into all of these lovely icebergs that we just saw the tip of. But I think that there will be time for that and I hope that people will go find you. Find more of you. Um, you’ve done a handful of podcasts as well. I think that you can be found in this, in this audible world as well. What other podcasts have you jammed on?
Totally Unmorganized. Uh, uh Oh and then Heather and Ava’s, yeah. Yes,The dance room the dance. And then there’s been a, Oh, the Bigfoot Collectors Club . My friend Michael McMillan has a, she has a podcast about, um, about Bigfoot. So I have a lot of non, non dance related content in that. Then my mom and I did a podcast for, My friends, a beauty beauty vegan podcast called Natchbeaut She’s a passionate vegan and finds women owned businesses through beauty and beauty is not my world. So my mom was really good at being the guest, I was just there to be made fun of. Pretty much, which I’m..
You were the link. You were the link between the worlds. Um, well thank you beyond for being my guest today and for sharing so freely. All of your wisdom and humor and insights and tips about lip syncing. You know, there is not a podcast for that yet. Thank you so much for being here. High five across the screen. Great. I think we missed
Your, you’re doing such a good job.
Ah, I so appreciate that. Thank you so much. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye.
Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website, theDanawilson.com/podcast finally, and most importantly now you have a way to become a words that move me member. So kickball, change over to patreon.com/wtMMpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody now I’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.
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 everybody and welcome to episode 15. I hope you’re doing good out there and I hope you are ready for this. This episode is a good one. If I do say so myself, although I guess I am pretty biased, but let’s get into it. Starting off with wins. I’m very proud of my win this week because it was a big challenge but a very worthy one. My husband and I shipped over 200 reusable face shields directly to the doctors and the hospitals that need them the most. I’m super proud and if you are interested in how you might be able to, uh, help in a similar way or if you’re interested in helping my husband and I should we decide to do a repeat effort, then go ahead and send me a direct message @danadaners on Instagram. Very much looking forward to hearing from you. Okay. So that’s my win. Now you go, what’s going well in your world? Oh wait.
Okay. Killer. I’m so glad you’re winning. Congratulations.
Now speaking of winning, I finally got to sit down with my two seaweed sisters. It’s okay if you don’t know what that means yet cause you’re about to, um, these two women are probably my biggest influences and I’m just thrilled to share some of what, uh, we, we dug up and dug into. So I hope you enjoy this conversation with Jillian Myers and Megan Lawson, my seaweed sisters.
Dana: I can’t think of a better day than this rainy day to invite my two favorite people, Megan Lawson and Jillian Myers, my seaweed sisters to be podcasts sisters today. Welcome to the podcast, ladies. Thank you for being here. And I’m going to ask you really quickly to introduce yourselves.
it does feel like there should be an applause, right? Like a cheer.
Jillian: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Or I can imagine your theme *sings themesong*
Dana: It’s funky, right? It’s very good. I love it. Much shout up max the music man. Thank you for that funky jingle. Okay, cool. I I take it away. Someone who’s it gonna be, who’s it gonna be?
Megan: And this is probably our most dreaded part. Um, I am Megan Lawson. I am from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. And like my fellow sisters, I am a dancer, choreographer, director, movement coach, teacher, you name it. We got it.
Dana: Beautiful list of things to own. Yeah.
Jillian: And most importantly Seaweed sister
We’re all wearing our matching seaweed sister blouses today. It’s still a blouse. If it’s denim.
Yeah. Why not? It buttons. It’s good. I think, you know, it’s definitely our best swag. Maybe our only swag, but it is the best swag.
So currently our only swag, let’s get on that after the call. We’ll get on the merch. Merch front. Okay. Jilly, who are you?
Oh my gosh. Well you said half of my name, Jillian Meyers. That’s me. Uh, and I, I, I liked the location base. I grew up just outside of Portland, Oregon and have lived in LA for a very long time, I think. Okay. 14, 15 years, something like that. And, uh, dancer, choreographer, teacher, director, mover maker, doer, lover, seaweed, sister.
All right. Um, beautiful, brilliant intros. Thank you. Yes. Okay. So I think I haven’t really kept, uh, a tally. Yeah. But of all the people and ideas that I mentioned on the podcast, I think, I think the seaweed sisters are front runner on most mentioned. Um, and every time I mention it, I feel the need to, uh, introduce or explain us to people who might not know who the seaweed sisters are. And every time I start to do that, I stopped doing that because it’s kind of a challenge to explain exactly what it is that we are. So what I would love to do today is without spoiling any of the magic, just demystify a little bit. Mmm. Who we are and what we do and what is at the core of our universe. You know, what are our guiding principles? What is the seaweed sisters North star? Um, so, so that’s kind of a big bite actually for if for type of podcasts. So I’m going to start with one of my favorite questions to receive about any of our work. And that is Mmm. “What is this? “Usually people are watching or listening and they’re looking and they’re like, okay. Oh yeah. So it’s a video and it’s sorted. Is it dance? Is it, what exactly is this? So on the theme of what is this, I’m going to ask just kind of a, uh, blazing round of questions. Um, and I’m going to ask what is blank? So, uh, let’s start with, Mmm. Ooh. I’ve got a shortlist and they’re all, you’re all kind of challenging. Um, let’s start with… Okay. What is the process, in other words, when Dana, Jillian and Megan get in a room, what is happening in there?
A lot of that, a lot of giggle’s, that’s for sure. We laugh our butts off cause I think, um, we like to do things that tickle us genuinely, genuinely. There we go. Um, so, and if it doesn’t have a tickle or a funny fancy, then a lot of times those things don’t stay. That’s one. I dunno. Magoo what do you got?
Megan: Uh, acceptance, which comes in, uh, in the form of “yes, and” uh, seeing an admiring each other and being a fan is it makes it so easy to make, uh, in the studio because we see one move, we say, yep, That and add a little flippiety floppity. And on it goes.
Yes and, okay, yes. This is a great place to start. Actually. A really good tip of a very big iceberg is this concept of taking silliness very seriously and our general rule for that is to say yes to whatever happens in the room and a modification. Um, this is a widely known improvisation concept. Uh, nothing that we invented or that’s new to the world of creating things actually I think is also even outside of the creative world. Helpful in relationships, helpful in business, helpful in all realms of life. Just saying yes, and
Dance lessons are life lessons!
Dance lessons are life lessons and improv techniques should be life techniques. Um, so it definitely helps that we adore and admire the things that come out of each other. Um, so saying yes is never, I’ve never felt like, Oh, uh, I want to say no. Um, but the answer is always yes, and how else or yes, and what else? Yes, and what more yes, and what does it mean yes, and in what direction? Yes, and can we do it backwards, sideways, upside down in a circle?
Yes, and how many times should we do it? Four times, for sure.
So really, I don’t remember when that began for us, but it has been there almost the entire time, if not the entire time, because with um, I think all three of us are, uh, pretty juicy on the thoughtful front. We’re not ever lacking ideas, I guess I would say, dare I say. Um, so the actual, the editing can be hard and that usually happens in the and part. So all the ideas come up with yes. And then in this and process, we revise and refine and we sort of edit down and we get to a place where all three of us are. Like, I love that. Mmm. And then occasionally in the event that we don’t all three agree, which has happened maybe once or twice, we do kind of go for like a vote. Okay. I really love it. I really love it. Okay, great. I think it’s good. Let’s go for it. Yup.
The real two thirds. Yeah. I think we’ve tried to really stick to that. Like two out of three are in, then we go and we keep moving.
Yup. Nice. I love that. Beautiful. Okay. Tie that up with a bow. Um, what are the seaweed sisters? What are we doing?
Hmm. Long extended pause. For me. This question, the answer is sort of varies depending on who I’m talking to and that might be awful and it might surprise you to hear. Like that. I, I don’t have like an elevator pitch, one size fits all answer to that question. But if I’m talking to an actor or comedian, I say that we are dancers that call on comedy. Whimsy, Mmm. Site specific. Even acting. Mmm. And then if I’m talking to dancers, I say we’re a Yeah. Clown, clown types, actors that use movement to, um, to, to tickle. Um, if I’m talking to parents, I say that we are the Disney and Pixar of dance, which, which is definitely self flattery,
but I don’t think it’s untrue though. not untrue.
It’s not untrue, accessible and relatable to very little young, young ones, young minds, but also, uh, big picture ideas that really hit home for people that have lived a lot of life.
So that I, yeah, I guess my answer to what are we kind of shifts, um, depending on who I’m talking to. Do you guys want to add anything to,
Yeah. I mean, we started as a couple of friends that wanted to dance together. Right? Right. Yeah. As you’ve shared, we are our tribes ladies. We’re, we’re of the same, uh, thoughtfulness and curiosity and desire for, uh, for something different. And one of our bedrocks being discovery, uh, I think that comes into our dance moves themselves. Like, Hey, how else can we move? Uh, but also the, the why and the where and uh, the imagination of, like you said, if you’re talking to parents, we go Disney because it feels relatable and appropriate for everybody. And that inclusivity is important to us.
Yeah. Inclusivity, discovery. These are like are hugely guiding principles and also otherness being being a, um, less identifiable as dancer or woman or lady. And we are this thing,
Oh man, I think, yeah, I’m with you Willis. As far as like kind of the description, you know, kind of being malleable. I think a lot of times I, or what I’ve found myself recently saying, it’s like we’re seaweed sisters is a performance project because it’s like, I like that it can then take on many different shapes because yes, we make videos. Yes, we do. Mmm. You know, live shows. Yes, we do kind of site-specific interactive shows. We’ve done this. And um, I think even though we’ve been at this for six years now, I think, you know, which is wild and awesome. I think we are still kind of like just the way seaweed is a little eh anamorphic or kind of like ever moving an amoeba that kind of is continuously changing shape. I think we want to have that flexibility to try all those different things. Also as you said without a shortage of ideas, we, there’s a lot of things we want to try. So um, yeah I find that I try not to describe it too much so that it can kind of be anything that might appeal to you or you or you, I don’t know. It’s hard but also that’s what I love about it.
That’s a great point is that the seaweed sisters might actually suffer from too much definition, too much description and too much pinning down because although we are six years old, we are only six years old and there is so much to be done.
So that’s, that’s what we are, what we do, what we’re about a little bit video, a little bit, live a little bit site and we also teach because we all teach individually. Sometimes we teach together and because the work is so much about discovery and individuality, personality inclusivity, okay. When we teach seaweed material all and like those little spores go out into the world. Some of the weeds that come back out of that like, Oh man, our extended seaweed family, all of our students. Um, I’m so grateful to them and seeing that because it, okay, after six years of working together, it’s sort of like we’ve established a language in these characters sort of accidentally. Like we never sat at a drawing board and said like, Oh, okay, you’re the dumb one. You’re the dumber one, you’re the dumbest one. We never had that, in that sense, like very different than Disney, way less strategy in terms of like, you know, building the thing that the consumer will love is just like we say yes to ourselves and we say and to each other and, and then, and then the seaweed falls out, go, go, go.
Oh no. Well, I mean I agree so much with what you’re saying. I think a lot of it just kind of is our alchemy Like when we come together, the things that happen and that we don’t question that we just kind of go with it. And what I actually, I’m having memories of like, I think what we most discover or define those things are at like a Q and A situation. Yeah. When students ask us questions or propose things and we’re like, Oh yeah, that, that, that is true. You know, or like I’ll never forget the time and she phrased this question or slash statement so beautifully about women in the industry of physical comedy and, you know, and we were like, Oh, not even something that is consciously on our radar, but yet that is really subconsciously important to all three of us and also just comes out. It’s, you know, a part of who we are. But, um, I remember after that point I really like kind of doing a little research and yeah, just kind of considering that now at the forefront of my mind as a part of what we do, where it’s, it was always present. I just hadn’t thought of it that way.
Yeah. Right. You know, I’ve always in my life valued humor, um, but moving to LA in like 2005 and really gearing my efforts towards becoming a entertainment industry dancer. Okay. Whether that’s backup for an artist or in commercials and film is almost always about being cool or being sexy. And a maybe a combination of the two, a different ratio of those two things, but pretty exclusively cool and sexy. And the seaweed sisters helped me remember how important humor and otherness is to me. And so I think for me, the expected benefit is like rediscovering one of my huge values in life and, uh, delivering to a world that I know and love, right. The entertainment industry, a healthy dose of that, of those values. So that’s been really cool. Um, but what else has sprung from this? Other than some pretty awesome relationships.
Yeah. That actually, that comes to mind so quickly for me is just this sisterhood, uh, yeah. Both creatively, but also you two just activate, uh, the human in me, uh,
Yeah. Yeah. That, uh, I don’t have any sisters biologically. Uh, so you two. Uh, yeah, just, it really opened me to a world of, um, honesty and Whoa, sorry. Wills that just went vulnerable really quick.
That’s the part of it!
Yeah. Yeah. I can, I can offer up anything without fear with you guys. And then that can maybe go into the world and that’s, yeah, it was special and very unexpected. Just like ms emotion.
Oh yes, and. Yes. Yes. Tears and I applaud them. I applaud you. That is another, this is brilliant. Emotionality. Is one of art talents. I think one of our strengths. Oh, and we do have a slogan by the way.
We do, I know, I’m like, which one?
Speaking of strengths.
Oh, strength is not our strength.
Strength is not our strength. If you, if you watch our work, very capable dancers I would say, but never calling on great feats of strength, endurance, stamina even, but emotionality. Yes. You will find. And the, and the full human spectrum. Um, and I, I think that that’s special. Mmm, and unique to us is that even in one work you, you’ll probably see the whole, the whole spectrum. And I think that’s super fun.
And on that same note as well. Uh, and we talk about it and giggle about silliness and how one might watch our work and think like, Oh, that’s funny, but we take our silliness very seriously. And that is how it also is able to connect because we’ve got, it’s still athletic. It still has the dance to reinforce what we’re trying to pass on and it’s, it’s not just a flip flop, but it’s got a lot of work and thought behind it.
Curation, thought. Yeah. Thought and really like specificity. Which yes, at a glance it might seem very more so happenstance, but yeah. Each of those flops and little eye twitches are considered. We talk about them, you know, why is that happening? How do you feel when you do that? Okay, cool. Maybe I’ll try that. And yeah, I think that is also what kind of sets apart our work is that it doesn’t feel hazardous. It isn’t just a kind of cacophony of like things and faces and you know, cause that also happens and can be great. But Mmm. even in it’s kind of, it creates a very specific harmony. I think of that, that it, you know, it touches on all those things quickly. It is like dance that is very at times like very specific and then very loose or free. And uh, we value all of it and try to make it all happen and clear and um, it’s an important part of what we do. And we love that. It’d be a good thing. You know,
Yes. Yeah. Brings us so much joy.
Yeah. It’s the, the process itself, like fuels more process. Um, and the process is deep, right? Like there’s the brainstorming, you mentioned the yes part and then there’s the editing and there’s the stepping back and taking a look. Um, we also are getting pretty, uh, refined in the process to the point where if for example, we’re making a video work, we usually start by settling on a song and then we see, uh, location where this might take place and environment. Yep. And we get in the studio and brainstorm the bits and we say yes. And then we usually make a prototype video.
Which shout out to Dana Wilson who is our technical weed. Yes, yes. It’s come into play to help us so much in our weedness. It’s true.
It’s, it’s definitely helpful when you’re trying to do something that’s difficult to explain as we already demonstrator. So sometimes the best, the best way for us to get a team on board or to explain our vision, um, is to just show. So we’ll do a little prototype. Um, and that helps us get to the next step, which is ultimately producing these things. Um, and let’s talk a little bit about that. Oh guys, I’m reworking my thoughts around passion project that phrase. It’s, it’s a project project. They’re all passion projects because I love what I do. Passion project usually comes with the notation of like low budget project. It is an out of pocket project for us. Nobody’s paying for us to do these other than ourselves. Uh, because of that we, we want to, we want every moment and every dime of it to be a memorable and lovable moment and dime.
Ooh. And wills. Can I throw in also in the thought of like, you know, that collaboration like being such a big part of all of our projects that we’ve made and also is like kind of the origin seed of the seaweed sisters. Why we made anything in the beginning is because none of us had ever gotten to work together. We’ve never all made something together, three dear friends that like, as you said in the commercial kind of sense as far as work goes, had never ended up in the same place. So it was the ultimately the impetus to want that we wanted to make something together to collaborate and that’s how our first making ever happens.
Yes, And! after we made that first thing, which was actually a piece for a live performance, somebody, Lando Wilkin’s approached us about making it into a video. We didn’t even, that was, that happened to us, the, you know, the invite into the video realm, which,
And I wouldn’t even say approach. He just like, yo, you have to, you have to film it at a pool.
I was like, I got up and he was like, I got a friend, we got a camera, let’s go.
Oh, that’s so, yeah. And I love that for anybody. If you see something, you, you never know what those moments are going to turn into. If you hire someone and you, and you’d just give him a little poke. It could, yeah. Ignite so much. Um, okay. This what the heck? Six years later, I’m not sure, inevitably we would have worked together again. Um, but I don’t know if it would have totally, really bonded this puppy. Yes. Thank you. Lando.
Shout out. Do we call him Papa weed? I something like this or elder weed. I don’t know. He’s something.
Um, I think that we just gave new meaning to see something, say something. And I think that’s also part of our process. Right. And we’re always kind of like all eyes on each other in the room and it a little, a little something comes out and we’re like, Oh yes. uh. Um, so see something, say something. I think that’s a great attitude to have out there in the world. Mmm. And in a studio in a creative place. Yeah. Um, and I also want to take a moment to thank you guys for the say something part, always coming with kindness and with consideration. Mmm. Because anybody that’s working in a creative field knows that collaboration is not always encouraging. There’s, a lot of places, points in the process that you can get ripped apart. And, um, I’ve, I’ve never felt that with you guys and I don’t know if that’s the secret to success or if maybe we’re missing something by being less critical. I don’t know. But I love, I subscribed to the sistership and this is one of my favorite creative processes to be that I’ve ever been involved in. It’s just so nurturing and I think it’s great. Yeah. Amen.
And to like expand that back out to kind of where we just were. I think that would go towards all of our collaborators as well. Like have people that are very like Uber creative people, but that care. And um, yeah, I would say any of our collaborators really, especially as far as like friends when we coming to filming things. Um, people that see us, people that are excited about, you know, what, what we want to do and they want to get in there and get dirty. Especially as far as like it being a, a project of love and lower means sometimes, but we really make it mean something.
Yes. Um, financial means and meaningfulness. Yes. Yeah. Or not, uh, not directly linked. Okay. Let’s take a second and talk about our teams then. So we talked a little bit about Lando and the first video, which is called Get Free, right? It was shot by Andrew Rose
And the song is called Get Free, but we called it Get Sea.
Oh, great point. Because we love a play on words if you haven’t noticed. Mmm. And then piece number two, we called the “Sea”quel. Whoa. See what we did there. Um, and that was shot and directed. Bye Isaac Ravishankara um, with Danny Madden as well at the helm. And I don’t know how we even divvied up the titleship to those. It really is it’s big stew. And we just stew in it together.
You hold the camera, you throw the water balloon no more in the face. Now hold it.
Right, right. Um, so and so’s working on storyboard. Will so-and-so is cutting a wig. Well, so-and-so is making the costume. Well, so and so is making sure that hard-drives are all freed up.
That was such a wild weekend. Yeah. We had rented an Airbnb in Joshua tree and it was a weekend of executing the sequel and I have this memory of Danny Madden who is also an animator drawing out the entire storyboard beautifully. I think we still haven’t sent her and uh, and then more friends arrived the next day because we also were performing at Coachella with Hozier that weekend.
Yes. Yes. And Issac who is a dear friend and director is his job. One of his jobs, he danced with us. Yes. He was my partner. I needed a partner.
We were rehearsing Friends were filling up water balloons. Matty Peacock’s in the back filling up balloons, all hands on deck, just all the friends and rehearsing in the Airbnb that night,
Amidst air mattresses.
And you came out. Mmm. Our jackets our weed jackets, which were so dirty, so dirty with lit, with actual dirt.
Shout out Pono, cutting our wigs, getting our jackets. Yes. Yes. There were so many good memories that weekend
Also, I think building and like reinforcing the yes. And uh, there were supposed to be two friends that in the middle of that video there was supposed to be a duel who ended up not making it. And so on the fly in like in the middle of our day when we’re like supposed to shoot it in an hour, we like took like a stop. Everything stopped down. Yeah. Okay. What else can this be now? Because that was accounting for a big part of the song. And so that’s actually when the kind of water balloon fight, idea of Mirage born, and then there are good. The bad, the ugly moment. Yes. Yeah. It was never, that’s not what that, what we thought we were making, but that’s what we made.
That’s incredible. I think that’s another kind of brilliant, Mmm. Metaphor is one of the best properties of seaweed is it’s looseness. Right? Totally. Yeah. And we’re, we’re were three ladies that individually have a lot of plans. We’re very good at making plans, but we’re also very good at rolling with it. When the plans change, would they, which they ultimately will
Always, and again, like two collaborators that are also very strong suited in that remark. Like, Oh, not this. Both of them. Yeah. Like, Oh, not that. Okay. Then what about this, this or this? Like they’re both so good. Another great chance to learn from others in that skill, you know, which was, it’s such a gift.
Oh yeah. I remember being holed up in that bunker. Wait, hold up. H. O. L. E. D. I struggled with that in a previous podcast and I talked to my mom last night, who is my editor. And she was like, honey, it’s hold up like you’re in a hole. And I was like, okay, great. So we were holed up in a literal bunker, like, what are we going to do? But are we going to do? And in my mind, I was like, Oh, we’re going to have to pay for another Airbnb day. We’re gonna have to wait. We’re going to have to blah, blah, blah. And then the answer to that was like, no, thats one of the nos that we did accept and it was substituted by it. Uh, a very colorful and bright and fun idea. I think that’s, yeah, some of the, some of the ways that we solve problems. Mmm. Because of our limitations in time and in finance, uh, are the most creative things. Right? If we had all the money in the world, we’d have just extended a day or hired two new dancers or whatever. But I, I love the creativity that’s resulted from those limitations.
Million percent agreed. Seaweed solutions
Seaweed solutions. While if we get, we should sell a toner, like a facial toner or like a full face line in seaweed solutions.
That’s what you are also our merch captain. I think you’re already tech weed and our merch weed. You’d have a million ideas for seaweed merch.
Mind you, we don’t have any yet, but that’s okay.
Pins, Puzzles magnents.
Oh my gosh. Okay. Listeners vote toe vote on this. Do you guys, are you guys familiar with toevote? Okay. <inaudible> vote on this right now. 3D printed seaweed faces that are a mockup of Mount Rushmore. Yeah. Like just our three faces. Little 3D prints come on.
Toes voting. Yes, So vote yes on that. Yup.
Okay. Let’s keep walking through the catalog really quick. So part tree, um, Isaac and Danny both. And Jackie. Yes. Oh my gosh. Yes. Jackie. Yes. Super shout out Jackie. The best. Yes. If you’re gonna be holed up in a cabin with five people, I would definitely want you five people to be there.
Oh and greer!
There we go. We had a super, super helper. When we say helper, we mean like contributor, energetic healer, um, the many hat wearer.
Many hat wearer, we need a glue gun and a water. And thinking ahead,
There is also the only human, the seaweed universe has ever seen or interacted. It’s her in the soubs with Subaru at the end. So good
Okay. And then from part tree from the lush, lush for us, we go color wise, we jumped back in time, back in time to the birth of weeds. This superstar, crystal clear, pristine, clean, blank space. Um, and we really wanted us to all have been born from the same pod. I remember for a long time of trying to figure out how we could like build a sheth or a cocoon, something where we could be born from. And that was one of the, one of the ideas that I think we did edit out. A Peapod, a pea pod or maybe maybe it didn’t get edited out, just moved to the parking lot for another time. Mmm. But for that, we recruited our dear friends Angela Kohler and Ithyle Griffiths to direct and shoot.
And Ang suggested this place. Right. I feel like, yeah, we kind of had the idea, but she was on the kind of scouted this place and made it possible to have, like, we, I think we, yeah, we thought about a starker environment and she, she made that happen.
You’re so right. And we says, okay, what was it called? Weeses Pieces is that whats its called? Yeah. A little outside LA. A magical place. You’ll, you’ll recognize it from Um, several commercials. And music videos. Uh, Brittany Spears did the one with the Sharks there. Um, and uh, that also cool feature or cool behind the scenes note for the listeners was shot on the summer solstice. Uh, also the hottest day of the year that year. And we are wearing essentially trash bag suits that seal at the neck and rubber hats. So none of us blacked out that day is magical to me.
Not to mention that the way those suits state taught and full is a little fan on the back that pushes air from the outside and pushes it in 114 degrees that day. And we chose that. That was our choice. We also wore unitards underneath those. Oh my gosh. Yes. Holy moly. Oh guys. Oh, the choices. Yeah, we do. We laugh all the time. We choose, we are responsible for all of it.
Right. And we’re standing there looking at ourselves wearing sleeping bags with cut out for arms and we’re like, we chose this. This was our choice. A white unitard white this is great.
Wouldn’t change a thing.
Nope. That was such a fun and challenging day. I also speaking of challenges on that day. Okay. Um, unique challenge to the seaweed sisters. Uh, it’s not every set that you walk onto that you’ll hear somebody say how, how do we make the Flamingo fart? And the answer to that question Daniel Reetz. the Daniel Reetz also known as vice chief, also known as my husband, also known as MacGyver. Yes. Who engineered a remote detonated Flamingo fart enhanced by our editor and special effects super guru Arian Sohili
Who was also camera that day and in the water. And then like sunglasses, the glare from the sun on the water couldn’t like see, I think Ann’s got a migraine that day also for him cause it was so bright. Like she was a pregnant as well. Oh my gosh.
We also bought a trampoline transport and built a trampoline in the middle of nowhere and it just was easier for us to leave it there. So donated that to Reese’s Pieces. Good Job, good job. That took us airborne. We were such little balloon weeds.
That was so much fun. Oh my gosh. As the light was going down, just like hurry, get in there. Jump! Oh my gosh. We were fighting the sun that day even though it was one of the longest days of the year. But Whoa.
We used every bit of that sunlight. Sure did.
Have we ever done a shoot that took more than one day?
I mean, technically sequel, exactly. The second day we did, I think we did a lot of inserts of the water balloons, hence why friends were filling them up in the morning. Like we had to get some stuff, I think flying through the air, the pickup. But other than that, everything has been contained to one day or, or early morning.
So that brings us to the rather important video that we, it’s our most recent video work, which we shot in the back bottom of an empty pool. Yeah. All through the night. So it was a night shoot. And that one was directed by dear seaweed, sister friend and ally Mimi cave.
And it was produced by Heron Bourke and the DP was David Bourke, her husband. Mmm. We had an assistant camera that day. That was Walter Dandy and a gaffer, Austin Michaels. Um, we had an electric, we had a lot of hands this day. Yeah, yeah. Um, and a key grip. Even we had a key grip you guys, that’s important. Uh, Colin Lindsey was our grip and then we even have a magical mystical drone shot at the end of that. Um, and our drone was piloted by Jacob Patrick. Um, but the rest of everything was shot on steady cam by our barnacle brother Devin Jamieson coming through in the clutch. Biggest love.
Who also kind of helped coin or what is this? Because the first time Dev came to her rehearsal cause he’s like, I’d love to see it. Of course. We’re like, yes, come watch end of rehearsal. That was his first remark after we showed him the whole thing, he looked at us and he’s like so what is this like with excitement and curiosity and confusion? Um, and I think that’s the, one of the biggest compliments I have taken away from our seaweed showings is that remark.
Oh my gosh, you’re so right. It’s a compliment. Like when somebody says, what is this? We go, thank you. Thank you. Totally
New tagline. Um, and that is, that’s where we left off with our video works, but that is certainly not the last thing that we have done together. Actually rather important birthed a really, really special and unique and cool and magical and cherished insert. Other positive adjectives, um, relationship with two women who go by Lucius, a musical group. Uh, Jilly, do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Oh man. Uh, yeah, actually again, a pivot point is Mimi. So, um, like rewind back a little bit. I think the ladies from Lucius were looking for just kind of some movement coaching. They’re about to go on tour and Mimi suggested me and so we only got to have a couple of like dance sessions before they left and then I left, I forget. I think we were leaving for Rocky horror. I think this was like at the end of 2015, something like that. And, um, yeah. So it builds a little connection, friendship there and fast forward, kind of keeping in touch. These two ladies are not only incredible, incredible singers, but also lovers of dance. And, uh, they had a couple of shows for new years that they w-wanted to opening acts and they wanted one of their opening acts to be just dance or not just but dance. How about that? And they reached, they reached out to me and they were like, do you happen to know a group of maybe two or three people that would come to San Francisco, it’s not a lot of money and do these couple of shows. And I was like, well, I’m kind of a part of a group of two or three. And they were like, okay, great. They were like, we wanted it to be the, this you guys, you ladies the seaweed sisters, but you know, it, you know, they were like, didn’t want to impose or ask, ask too much. But anyhow, uh, so that provided this really beautiful opportunity for us to, uh, perform live and to make a longer, long, longer work essentially because it was a set. So just like an opener would have a 20 minute set before the band. That’s what they wanted. So in a small space and for people that would have surely never have known who we are before that and maybe let alone ever gotten to just see a dance performance and uh, they brought us into that space with so much like, uh, I think just enthusiasm and support and we’re like, yeah, do your thing. And that was such a gift, not only just the moment itself, but I think for us to then consider what yeah, what, what is a live performance for us? How do we want to interact with people that don’t, wouldn’t know dance or wouldn’t necessarily yeah know who we are. So, Mmm. I dunno. yeah. I really love this moment is a part of our path in the sense of, again, widening and expanding what seaweed, where seaweed can show up, you know. Um, so that was, yeah, send you gifts. So shout out to the Lucious ladies,
Oh, I love big love and, and huge honor. Right. It was very cool. Usually dance and music when they’re together is dance in support of music and in the form of like backup dancers on a concert tour or something like that. Yeah. But we were on the marquee. We had, we were billed as like, you know, the opening act and I remember that being huge as well. I’d never seen that.
And guys, we, we continued on with them. We did two tours with them. Like on the bus, sleeping in the bunks, going to beautiful venues. Uh, and Opening Newport Folk Fest. We did, yes.
That’s where we got these.
That’s right. That’s where we got our blouses Thank you. Wrangler for our customers. Seaweed capes, they are in, I do feel that I have super powers when I wear this thing. Great.
And I wish I could remember. It’s a company that does all the embroidery shoot. Maybe we can look it up, insert later. I forget what it was they were, they are the ones that made it personalized.
We’ll add it to the show notes, be on the lookout show notes. Um, okay. This is, that was a beautiful walk through kind of a And of course the seaweed sisters had big plans for it. 2020, the month of April was deemed seaweed month. Yep. And then the month of April was slapped in the face by COVID-19 we are all three keeping to the social distancing.
Mmm. And I’m proud of us high five across the screen. This was an awesome day. I woke up and my husband was like “Babe, Babe it’s working. “And he showed me this graph that was like what models had projected, um, the reported cases and deaths to be and what they actually are right now. And it’s really looking like this huge social distancing effort, at least in the California area. Is working. So I think that’s super cool.
So that was a lovely walk through the life of the seaweed sisters up to this point. Yeah. And there is certainly much more to it to come. Obviously we period. But now I want to ask, what is, what is seaweed sisters in 10 years,
That’s even harder than, what is he, what sisters now.
Seaweed is a, is a, a live show. Uh, a short film series a animated adventure,
A travel series, a children’s show. series. Series regulars on the Sesame street.
Yeah. I’m an elderweeds puppet experience. Shout out Katie. Katie green. Yup.
Oh man. A feature film. Why not? Let’s throw that out. Okay, excellent. Yeah. Um, Oh and there is also another thing I didn’t mention as far as our identity goes. Uh, on the subject of otherness, we do not speak this language. Um, we speak and other language and I think it’s called seaweed, is that correct? Except to, uh, and it is an improvised language. It doesn’t have a vocabulary or a dictionary or grammar. Just sounds. Um, and we also are coming upon our names, our characters names. And I do want to talk about this for a second cause it’s a fun story. Um, I, an unexpected treat that came as a result of us doing this work is that we have now a lot of young fans out there. We’ve established relationships with some young people. And by young I mean like five years old, three, three to seven have somehow struck a chord unintentionally. Like we didn’t design our work to be that. But somehow, you know, we started hearing from, um, parents in our world saying, I literally use the seaweed sisters as the carrot and stick of my parenting. Like when the kid is good, they get to watch seaweeds sisters. And if they’re bad, they don’t get to watch seaweeds sisters. And like they’re, it’s, it’s hard to rip them from the screen when they’re watching you guys. And that’s such an honor and a treat to hear that. But also I think I find that there’s a like-mindedness to a five year old to a seaweed sister and, um, I, I got my name, my seaweed sister name, which is Zaggy. Yep. Uh, from Megan’s niece,
Sadie. But she’s been, she knew the pink is Megan and Dana is the blue and Jilly is the green one day, uh, her mom Poppy was asking her again, just okay, and who’s that? That’s auntie Megan and who’s that? And she said, that’s Zaggy she just said “What” She said that’s Zaggy and we went, we went with it. I was no, Julian was still Jillian. Dana became Zaggy that day.
I feel like it’s also kind of like, in a way, I think, uh, B-Boy culture, you can’t decide your own name, you kind of have to be gifted it or given it. Also learn same in sign language. Like you have a sign name, something that is only particular to, you know, uh, being able to sign it not audibly say it and it has to be given to you. Same thing. So yeah. Oh, so we’re getting there. Look at you lucky listeners. You get to find us at this cool fork in the road where we’ve been doing stuff for six years and still don’t know our names.
I, I so look forward to seeing future weeds and I’m so grateful for present weeds. Thank you so much for uh, for all of it. Um, but also for being here and sharing some of the super special thing.
We love your Willsy.
Thank you Dana for doing this podcast and making a space for all kinds of thoughts and people to share.
You better believe it. My pleasure. I won’t stop for at least a year. That’s my promise to myself and I’m pretty good at those.
You can do it. You are very good at.
Thank you. It is. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I love you and I’m going to keep my Cape on.
Yeah guys, well done. Love you Dane. Love you so much.
I love you. You’re the best weeds on the planet. Okay, bye. Bye.
And how was that for your daily dose of love and laughter? I wanted to jump out and check in with you and also leave you with a task. But first I did a little digging and I was able to rediscover the custom embroidery company that, that did our denim blouses. They’re called Fort Lonesome. And they do exquisite work. So thank you Fort Lonesome. Shout out. And also we left off an important helping helper from our rather important shoot. And her name is Gina Menchino. Thank you so much Gina for your help. I’m sorry that we got sidetracked before we mentioned your name in the episode. You’re so great. Thank you so much. Um, okay, cool. Now let me leave you with this task. One of my favorite things that came up during this episode was this idea of see something, say something. And of course that’s S E A something, say something. It’s very on-brand. So clearly the seaweed sisters are a nurturing bunch and I think that that’s served us well. And I think that in times like these, a little nurturing could do everybody some good. So I would like to task you with the task of thinking of an artist or a group of artists whose work you adore and admire and then shout them out or call them up better yet blasts in any way, shape or form that you choose and let them know that they’re special. Let them know that their work is making your world a better place. That is what it’s all about after all making the best of this world that we’ve got. So get out there and do it. Get it out of there and keep it funky. Thanks for listening everybody. I’ll talk to you soon.
Thought 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, the Dana wilson.com/podcast finally, and most importantly now you have a way to become a words that move me the member, so kickball, change over to patrion.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 artists story than sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hey everybody, and welcome to the podcast. I am so excited that you’re here. I am very excited about this episode and I’m very excited to try something new for the beginning of every episode. Um, yeah, I think I’m gonna make a new habit. Tell me if you love it. Tell me if you hate it. I actually mean that. I want you to give me the feedback. So, uh, send me a message at words that move me podcast or we could do a little callback from episode seven and you can toe vote. Toe voting is a game nay an art form that my husband invented and I talked about in episode seven. I use this game when I’m going through the airport, but you can use it right now or all the time. Toe voting is, um, when you silently and invisibly vote in favor or against, um, someone’s choices or behavior out there in the world. It is silent. It is invisible. It is just for you. But, uh, the toe vote works like this. Your little toes and your shoes will respond either by jumping up and down and approval or frowning and digging themselves into the floor. That’s what a toe vote is. Um, we’re back. My new top of the cast habit is called wins. Now, I did not invent the concept of starting with wins. Actually, I became familiar with this concept. Thanks to my acting teacher, Gary Imhoff who teaches the professional artists workshophere in Los Angeles. Cannot say enough great things about Gary. But, um, it’s been awhile since I took an acting class. It’s been awhile since I did wins and I cannot think of a better time to, uh, remind ourselves of the things that are going well then this very moment. So here is how wins works. I’ll go ahead and start.
All right. I’m actually busier than I have ever been, which is ironic because I’m a person whose work almost exclusively depends on large groups of people. Um, but I’m getting to do a lot of things that I’ve always wanted to do. Number one, train more. It seems like a lot of people are offering Instagram live or otherwise livestreams classes. I think it’s so much fun. It’s very cool. Um, another win, I actually added curtains to my dance space, um, which required a sewing machine and a power drill, which usually gives me the nervous fields. Um, but because I had to use it for like an hour, I got really solid. I’m much more confident with my power tool skills right now than I was, uh, a week or so ago. Um, let’s see, what else. Oh, also upgraded the Ram on my computer. Did that myself as well. Um, I also started a Patreon account for the podcast and it feel really, really good about this is the first time ever that I have opened up a membership option for any of my services. And I think it’s very cool. It’s uh, a way for you to get even more value out of this exchange and it’s a way for you to help me by keeping the lights on the disco ball as it were. Uh, speaking of disco ball, I made one out of aluminum foil. It’s hanging in my dance space, so that’s also definitely a win. Um, okay. I think that’s great. That’s a really good start on wins for me. And now it is your turn to go. A win is just an answer to the question. What went well and I really am, I’m going to leave a gap here for you to fill in that blank on your Mark. Get set, go.
Maybe I’ll play a little music for you so that it’s not as awkward.
Okay, great. I’m not just saying that wins are important because we’re having a tough patch. Is that safe to say? We’re, this isn’t the a high point of civilization. We’re not at our pinnacle right now. This isn’t our best performance, I would say. But I’m also saying it’s not all destroyed. I’m saying the sun comes up and the sun sets and we wake up and we go to sleep and somewhere something went well. So let’s share it for ourselves at very least to ourselves. But even to someone else, I think it’d be a good practice to start a wins group. This is my wins group. Thank you for joining me. Speaking of winning, I see you daily doers out there and I honestly am so inspired. I am. I, it’s always a treat to see what you guys are daily doing. If you are new to the podcast, please circle back to episode one and have a listen as I pose a daily creative challenge to all of you out there. I think this is a perfect time for it. I think oftentimes great restraint breeds great choreography that too. Um, but great restraints can cause great creativity. So please keep it up. Um, keep tagging your videos with the hashtag doing daily. WT M M the doing is the important part. So it comes first hashtag #doingdailyWTMM go take a look at that hashtag as well. You’re going to find some super treats. Um, okay. Moving right along. I am thrilled about this episode. Um, I had a conversation with a good friend of mine, Tiler Peck, principal ballerina for New York city ballet and all of the things she had to say I find so applicable and so valuable in a time like this. She talks about injury, she talks about training, she talks about family, she talks about the most challenging time of her life and she talks about finding herself and her strength within it. So without any further ado, enjoy this conversation with Tiler Peck.
Dana: Yes! Tiler, thank you so much for being here first and foremost today. It is a special time. It is a crazy time. Mmm. And it’s just very cool to see your face and hear your voice
Tiler: Thanks for having me.
Dana: Let’s start with having you introduce yourself. How do you like to introduce yourself?
Tiler: All right. Now let me just say I’m Tyler Peck and I’m in principal ballerina with New York city ballet.
And that is enough, my lady. Um, okay, cool. So you and I actually in years, years passed our timelines, our dance timelines overlapped when we were little NYCDA competition kid. Um, and I find something very interesting is very few of those Danclings pursue classical ballet and even fewer wind up in soloists roles and fewer still in principal roles. I think that speaks so much to your training but also to your talent and your drive. And I want to spend some time talking about that. So could you talk a little bit about your pre-professional training and uh, even before you and I met maybe a little bit during that timeline and then before going to the company,
Of course, I think that I am just as shocked that I became a ballerina’s probably like anybody else. I know Joe actually, Joe Lanteri always says like, I mean she can do ballet, but if you ever saw her do like jazz, then you would really see it. It’s the truth. I never thought I’d be a ballerina. I grew up first in my mom’s school in Bakersfield, California, and you know, her, her dance school, it has every style. So I grew up doing jazz. I was really bad at tap, so I can’t say that I ever really was good at that. But, um, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, hip hop, gym, you know, everything. I did everything and I did take privates. She did have me take, um, ballet privates with this, um, Russian teacher who actually is from California. Her name is Alla i and I believe the last name is Khaniashvil or something like, and she was a former principal, the Bolshoi ballet and they were my least favorite classes. Not because she wasn’t a good teacher. It just took the most discipline. Like I think ballet, when you’re younger it’s really hard because it takes the most focus just because you don’t get to dance to feel good music, you know, like a song that you love or a word that you can like relate to. It’s like classical music is sometimes honestly a little boring and especially when you’re younger. So I’d always try to get out of my ballet classes. I tell him I’m, Oh, I think when they feel sick today, I don’t think I should do ballet. And she’d be like, okay, well then if you’re sick for ballet, you’re also sick for jazz. And I would say, Oh, I think, I think I’m feeling better. I think I’m better now. So I’m glad that made me stick with it. Cause clearly I wouldn’t have made it as far in the ballet company. But, um, what took me to New York was getting the Music Man on Broadway and Mmm, that was just because, you know, in California, I, I did lots of commercials and like more commercial dance and theater. And so when my agency, um, sent me to New York to audition, my mom was like, we’re not going in New York. And I said, mom, let’s just go. And she goes, okay, we’ll just make it a fun trip. No pressure. You know? And I ended up getting it. And then she was like, you’re definitely not moving to New York. And I said, but mom, what if I never get this opportunity ever again, and you, you didn’t let me go. And she was like..
Ooooh! The guilt trip!
I know. And I was only 11! Yeah. So that was kind of what made me go to New York. And then from there I started taking at the school of American ballet, which is the company that feeds into the New York city ballet. And that was the first time where I ever felt like, wow, ballet is actually really interesting. And I think it was the Balanchine like technique style that I really, really love because it is a little bit jazzier and you know, all of a sudden didn’t seem so boring. And I was like, I also didn’t feel like I was really good at it. Like I felt like I looked like a jazz dancer trying to do ballet and I was like determined to not be that one that they were like, Oh, she’s just from the jazz world. You know? I was like, no, I’m going to get this. Then it’d be a ballerina. And I’ve always kind of been like that. Like, where if something isn’t easy, that’s like the route I go, I’m like, you know what, I’m going to do this and I’m going to be a ballerina. And that’s kind of what happened.
I love this. It’s actually one of my questions later down the, the stream that it was going to ask it, has it always been ballet and will it always be ballet? So now I know it hasn’t always been, but do you see like what is future Tiler? Is she like a tango dancer or ballroom or is she strictly choreography? Do you, do you think about her a lot?
I mean, I love ballroom actually. Like I don’t know it, but I Mmm. It was on a gig once. Then this ballroom dancer like took me on the dance floor just at the after party and I was like, this is literally the coolest thing ever. Like he made me feel like I’d been taking ballroom forever, but I don’t think that that’s going to be my route. Um, but no, I definitely want to always other things. I, I don’t think I want to do, um, ballet for a very long time. I thought this is when I should do this because it’s such a young career. So I got into the company at 15 and you know, I’ve already been in the company 16 years. I’m 31 and I’ve never really wanted to be someone like in my mid forties still in point shoes. I always kind of want to leave when I can still do everything in such a classical company. But then I would love to do like, you know, theater or choreograph or something like that and move back into you know, not doing just classical ballet. Um, but I just felt like this was the time for me to do it. If I was going to do ballet, I was going to pursue ballet this was the time.
Got it. But you do also pursue these other avenues even now, a little bit of acting, a little bit of choreographing. Um, do you want to talk about any of those?
Yeah, I mean, I think because I did grow up in California and you know, I did do a lot of acting and stuff like the story ballets at New York city ballet the most for me just because you get to tell a story, we don’t use your voice. But, um, that’s why when Susan’s Stroman like talks to me about doing this new musical that’s coming out, um, to be the lead and that I’ve kind of been a part of for like 10 years. Um, it was kind of the perfect thing for me because it has ballet, it’s about a ballerina. I get to carry this show, so I’m have to. Mmm. Basically I’m on stage for two and a half hours singing, acting and dancing. So it’s like, it was like such a challenge for me and I was like, I haven’t used my voice and like 10 years, but let’s try it, you know? Yeah. And also when I just got through this injury, I use that as a lot of time to do other things like choreograph and you know, do a few acting. Mmm. Acting jobs on TV shows and things. So it was a good time to make my mind. It was like a forced time to, to do everything you love because I had the time and I love it. Mmm. With my New York city ballet crazy schedule.
Cool. That is a, I think an excellent segue. I couldn’t have written that myself. I’m talk about being forced into certain things or away from certain things. Um, I would love to talk to you more about the type of training that you’re used to and how different your life is now that we are in, um, I’m going to use the word lockdown. It’s not technically a lock down, at least here in California. We’re both in California right now. So I guess what I’m asking is what is the importance of training to you? And if you could actually be interesting to hear a day in the life of principal ballerina, how much of that is training, how much of that is performing and what are you doing right now when we don’t have that, or our traditional flow.
Yeah. So every day we work every day, but Monday just kind of like Broadway schedules. Um, but we’re training all day. It’s not like a Broadway show where one gets up, You’re just performing at night. Mmm. We start class at 10 30. They have class every day for an hour when we’re in season and then they can rehearse us from 11:30 to 6:00 and then they show at 8:00. We do that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday we had two shows on Saturday. And then on Sunday we have class at 10:30 they can rehearse us It’s for like three hours and then the matinee. So it’s crazy. Yeah. By the time you get to the show, a lot of times you say to yourself, I’m so tired. I literally don’t know what’s going to happen right now. Sometimes that’s when you do your best performances because you don’t have the nerve because you just don’t have the energy for them and you just, you know, so grounded. But yeah, so I’m used to dancing all day long and um, right now in order to, to keep that up, I’ve been taking class every day. You know, my mom has a dance studio, so it’d be really easy for me just to go down there. But Mmm. You know, I’ve been listening also to what they’re saying, like stay at home and she shut her studio. And so I’ve just been doing classes in my mom’s kitchen and using her kitchen countertop as my bar. And I just thought, you know, I’m going to do this every single day for myself because I have to keep my training up. So I thought, why don’t I open it up and let people take with me on Instagram live. And I did it the first day and I was like, you know, let’s just see if anybody liked it. Then it seems like a really big thing and everybody’s really looking forward to it, I think during the day. So I thought, you know, if I’m going to keep up my training, I might as well let everybody do it with me because I’m sure so many people are missing being in their dance studios. And it’s hard to get motivated when you’re just doing it by yourself. I mean I just came off of a huge injury where I was off for six months and I couldn’t do anything. And then it took me, you know, like another probably three months to get back and I had to do class every single day and I did it with a teacher because I needed somebody to be motivating me. And so that’s what I thought is like if I do these live classes, at least somebody can. I can be, you know, I could be leading the class and trying to motivate these people to keep moving so they’re not having to do it by themselves. Cause that’s hard.
It is. It’s so hard. Yeah,
It’s keeping me accountable too. I feel like because if I were doing it myself maybe it would skip combinations or do it at different times or, and this is like, no, it’s an hour every single day or Monday through Saturdays.
People show up for class.
Yes, people show up. So
I took, I’ve taken a couple, um, I was there, I think I was there on day one. I’m not sure if I was there.
You were there day one!
I was a day one or I have not been in everyday or a more a more often dayer or I think finding some sort of normalcy in a day is valuable. Um, but I love the normalcy. I love the sharing and I love the accountability. All of these things to me are what the internet has always been good at. Sharing information, finding solutions to urgent problems and connecting and we’re really, we’re using it for that.
Yeah, it’s true.
Dana: Okay. Tiler and I talked about the silver linings of this Corona virus crisis situation for quite a while, but I wanted to take a second and pop out to reflect on her training regimen and man! Hearing about the day that Tiler goes through. Made me want to up my training regimen. That is for sure and actually reminded me of episode 9 when I spoke with Jason Bonner who says if your show is two hours long then you’re training for three or in Tiler’s case if your show is two hours long, you’re training for the remaining eight hours. Hearing about this honestly made me want to up my game and it reminded me of a saying, you will not rise to the occasion. You will fall to your level of training, so train up everybody train up, now is a perfect time.
We’re going to jump back and talk a little bit more about training with Tiler, but we’re also going to talk about the injury that put her through the most challenging time of her life. Tiler wasn’t just unable to dance or train. She was unable to execute normal daily tasks like turning her head or lifting her arm for five months. To get even more backstory about that injury and her road to recovery. I strongly recommend you read the New York times article called Am I more than just a dancer?I will link to it on the website, theDanaWilson.com/podcast under this episode, which is episode 13 but I’m also just Google the New York times and Tiler Peck and you will probably find it. Am I more than just a Dancer? Fabulous read. Okay, let’s jump back in.
Dana: Okay, so if you went five months, we can definitely do several weeks. My question for you is this, how does one go from five months of not even doing normal range of human motion stuff? To Sugarplum. Was that your first performance back?
Tiler: Yeah, it was sugarplum because I did everything with every other part of my body that I could work out, so like I couldn’t ride a bicycle because they’ve thought that was too much.
Dana: This was a neck injury right?
Yeah, a herniated disc in my C-5-6 which is the neck and mine was so severe that it was touching my spinal cord and we all know that like that’s not good. So I had to wait and I was told I would like never dance or could be paralyzed if I was walking and got slightly pushed. I mean I went through a roundabout. Mmm, very scary time. But I had this one physical therapist who just, I like literally trust my life, who’s the New York city ballet doc therapist. And she just kept saying, I don’t know, I just don’t feel like you need the surgery like they’re saying. And we just kept searching and searching. But she, I met with her every single day and we just did like cranial sacral work and I met with an energy healer. And so we were healing my body kind of from like the inside out, you know, she made me wear my point shoes around the house every single day so that my toes and my feet would be strong. And then we actually started, she made me keep my bottom half working. You know, I’d do relevés me and my point shoes, I do a little moving. I just wouldn’t move my arm or my neck. So yeah. So she was really smart with the way that she brought me back and I really don’t know what I would’ve done without her. And um, Rob, who’s the energy healer. But yeah, it was all about finding what, how I could stay in shape without doing anything to hurt my neck so that it could heal.
Right. The healing is so, so, so important. Um, what did you learn about yourself during that period while you were know..
Yeah. I mean the energy healer is an hour and a half session that I did every single Wednesday and 45 minutes of that hour is just talking. And so you start to learn a lot about yourself, about where your stresses are in life, where you want to get better. You know, your, your weaknesses, your tendencies and it’s kind of like you begin to heal yourself. Is what he’s there for, to kind of help you heal yourself. And I learned so much about myself. I learned, you know, that I’ve always wanted, I’ve always, and like a very empathetic person where I, I really not a people pleaser, but I really don’t like when anybody’s upset at me or I really feel when somebody’s going through something and kind of what I learned with this is that I had to sort of, not distance myself but still have those feelings, but realize how much of that I was going to allow to be my energy of the day. You know? Like I could still have those feelings, but at the end of the day I needed to be able to stand up for what I believed in. Somebody you know, um, didn’t like something or got their feelings hurt like I’ve learned now that like I just now tell them like honestly, like, I’m really sorry if that happened that’s so not what I thought this is, you know? And it makes me feel so much better because I’m being true to myself. And also I feel like when you do tell the truth and get it forward, the problem just goes away that much faster. So I think, I think in this whole thing, I just kind of learned how to be a little bit more Mmm. Like real with myself and my own feelings. And I think that in the end that kind of like also helped the healing.
Oh, okay. Would you say that that might’ve been like the brighter light at the end of the tunnel? Like you maybe went into this injury being injured in another area and then this injury somehow wound up healing both.
Of course. Actually the first day he always reminds me that when I went in I said, you know, I had a back injury. You know, my body has been pretty good to me for as long as I’ve been dancing. And the only other injury I had was a back thing when I was 18 and I felt like from that injury, what I said in our first meeting was I came back such like more of an artist, like I was more mature, I was able to be more vulnerable. And I said, you know, I’m wondering what this one is going to bring, you know? And Mmm. The other day I said to him, I was like, I really just feel like I’m a different person. Like a better version of myself and I’m able to say what I feel a little bit more and not keep it so bottled up and I just feel like I’m more open and I was always warm, but I feel like I’m able to receive things a little bit easier now.
Oh, I love this phrase. What will this bring to me? Like even an injury, I think, you know, I, I struggle with patellar tendonitis in my knees and when I have that pain or when I’m going through, even when I’m training, like when I’m doing PT, my thoughts are like, ah, I don’t have good knees. I don’t ha, I’m like, I’m without good knees. Instead of thinking, what will this like, how is this actually an active experience instead of how is this taking away from something that I think should be fine and working perfectly with what we do? Are you kidding? Of course knees will be wonky and backs will be out in all the things like, Oh man, what we do is unnatural. So it makes sense that we experience unnatural pain at times. And I really love that thought. What, what will this bring me? And I love what it brought you, this sense of self, um, and this idea that you can still be empathetic and a person that’s warm and a person that cares without carrying all of that.
Yeah. And I think I also just um, yeah, I kept worrying like, Oh my gosh, when I come back everybody is going like be judging me and what am I not going to move my neck the same way? And I finally came the conclusion. I was like, I am a different dancer. It’s okay. I’m going to be a different ballerina. But like that doesn’t mean that it’s the wrong kind. Like I’m going to be a different, Tiler and I might have to do you think a little bit differently and be a little bit smarter when it comes to the way I move my neck. But I’m going to enjoy it and love it that much more for being out there again, when they told me I would never be, and at the same time like maybe it’s going to bring a different and better quality to my dancing.
And do you think it has?
I do think it has even, it’s funny. It’s like I did full length Swan Lake. I mean literally they told me and I was never going to dance and then we just had this season and I did full length Swan Lake and like I got there and I said, I’m on. I was like, I didn’t just get through it like I was DANCING, I did it, I was moving. But yeah, you know, I did. I did. There were things I couldn’t do. Like I can’t jump every day because it’s bad for the my neck still. So I would really waited to do it till the show to do all of my jumps. That was the first time I did everything and I got through it. But you know, there are things now that I just have to deal with and it’s okay, you know? But yeah, I do think it is. And sometimes I think, Oh, might not look that good. And then I watch a video and I’m like, Oh, I’m moving my body. I’m moving my neck. Not so bad.
Yes. I love that. We can’t go back. Like you won’t be the Tiler that was Tiler before you hurt your neck or your back, but you might be better. So keep going. You must go through that like cause it, it could truly be better on the other side.
Yeah. I just kept getting stuck and then I was like, why am I so concerned about that? Like I’m just going to be the different Tiler and I’m going to be happy in that.
Oh, that’s so great. I am definitely happy when I watch this Tiler previous Tiler also was, but watching you dance, especially lately, even just watching you teaching your class, there is a sense of Mmm. Freedom and joy that I’m just like, even in a routine task, like a, uh, you know, rond de jambs we’re just doing the rond de jambs. We’re checking to make sure that all of the all of the things and all the gears and all the nuts and all the bolts are working. But it looks somehow liberating freeing and fun. And it’s incredible to watch. It’s been very fun taking class with you. I would have never for the record, um, walked into a studio in New York and taking class with you. Cause it’s all the things that we hold in our heads, but like who does the thing so, so, so good. Um, and then to put yourself in the room next to them, it can be very, uh, intense. So there is a lot of, from the comfort of your own home happening right now. And I hope that a lot of people will progress and find, Mmm. A foothold into a world that maybe they might have otherwise been too afraid to step into. Mmm. Yeah. I, I don’t mean to say that I’m afraid of ballet. Um, it’s certainly not been my favorite style. I remember being competition kid crying, actually hot tears down my face during Adagio and I probably still would if I really got into a tough one.
Isn’t it funny! Adagio has always been my favorite and I, and I think it’s the thing, kind of the worst at.
No, that makes sense actually to your lean in personality. Like I didn’t just want to become an okay ballerina. That was okay. Taking class with ballerinas. No, I’m going to be the principal ballerina from injuries dancing, full swan lakes.
You know, it’s been so great with these classes. It’s like, I think because it’s like at a certain time every day, you know, that people really build in their lives. I wouldn’t get to teach half of these people, if I were going around studios or something, I would never reach the people that I’m able to. Yeah. I think yesterday like, or 15,000 people were taking class.
Its amazing! Yeah. Any knowledge that I have passed it on to them and the one hour a day at 10, you know, Pacific standard time or whatever. That’s so exciting.
Right. There’s not, uh, uh, uh, a classroom big enough to have that ballet class. The only a place that we could do that is on the internet is incredible. I’m so glad that we’re using it for the for good. Um, but that does beg the question. Um, is there a downside of this social media training stuff?
I do think and what I’ve noticed, cause I’m asking people to like hashtag turnout Tyler’s that I can see, see the videos because I don’t like the one thing I don’t like is not being able to see the people that I’m teaching, because, and it was really good for me because now they’re all sending the video, then I’ll like send them back corrections. But I also seen, um, the variety of people taking the class. So then I realized three days into like, I need to be making a beginner combination and an advanced one for every single um, combination because I don’t want the little ones that aren’t up to the advanced level to be trying to do something that their bodies are not ready for. You know? And so that’s, that’s the one thing if you were like super hands on, right? Yeah. What the, what your students are ready or not ready for throwing a class out that you would want to take and it might not be a great thing for everybody. Yeah. That’s, yeah. So that’s why I’m like, make sure and send your videos. And then like today, a little girl sent it and I was like, that’s not a high enough passe. And then she’s in another video or photo back then I was like, that’s right. You know, because I do think it’s important that they’re not just taking these classes and doing their technique wrong, you know, so, so that’s the one downside I think.
Cool. I appreciate that. I love that. Um, okay. Speaking of downsides, um, what do you consider to be downtime? Like is this downtime, are you working? What’s your attitude about downtime? Do you have it between acting, choreographing, a clothing line, being a ballerina? Like does that exist for you or what’s your, what’s your, what are your thoughts around downtime?
Okay. Anybody who knows me really well would probably laugh because they’re like, you don’t know how to have downtime, but I will tell you, I do love sitting in front of the TV and watching movies. And last night my family, we all watch together, dirty dancing, all six feet apart and it was just something I grew up watching and it was so amazing and my dad got so excited. My dad was like, I think we should all pick our favorite movie. He was like, cool, I want on the phone and he went into the other room and he brought back like ghost, sister act and something else. I was like, dad, yes. I could just tell. This is the first time I’ve been dancing I guess professionally since I was like six. I think that’s when I had my first commercial and honestly I’ve been home now I think for eight days and it’s the first time I’ve ever been with my family. Like today, we went on our first walk together and I said, as we were walking, I was like, I’m pretty sure this is the first walk we’ve ever taken as a family. And they were like, for sure, because when I was younger, my grandmother drove me three hours to take class at Studio C with Dee and Tina and Dennis Casberry three hours there and hours back from age. Um, I think like seven to 11. So this is the most family time I’ve ever had. And so that is what I’m really enjoying and I’m trying to be like, okay, I need to get off the phone now and really just enjoy this time that I have because when would I be able to be here that much?
Right. This might be the other slight downside to the social streaming class thing is that if you have that many students in class and you’re encouraging the discourse right, the back and forth, which I do. Yeah, I think that’s very smart. Um, you could spend 24 hours a day giving feedback to all of those people in class and you wind up literally stuck to this thing.
Yeah. I’m like, how am I busier now than normal? And it’s classes and interviews. Yeah, you know, but I said, I know the weekends, like I’m definitely not going to be on the phone and I really, really want to really just enjoy my time with my family at night. Okay, fine. I’ll let you go.
Um, okay. Yes, and I so agree. I think this is a very valuable time, not just for self-work, but for those of us that are uh, lucky enough to be in it with the family, with the people actually like hands on in person stuff. Dad said to me, can we play monopoly? And I was like, you said yes three times in a row. Dad, um,
Ps has great taste in movies, dad, I really love that. I think this will be the birth of great new rituals and well, we’ll remember things about this time that are truly special. I’m so glad about that. Definitely. All right. Well I do want you to get back to family time. Thank you so much for sharing this time with me. I learned a lot and smiled constantly.
Oh, I’ll see you. Hopefully soon. Not sure how summer in summer intensives are gonna work out. Um, we might have a long, Mmm. A long haul ahead of us, but perhaps a reschedule or a same schedule for your event this summer. Do you want to talk about it a little bit?
It’s my first summer course and basically I just had this idea because I love teaching. Obviously you can tell, but I, especially if for ballet I feel like the ballerinas don’t always get a range of movement. And I think that is what it really helped me be a different kind of a ballerina. And so I kind of wanted to be how I was brought up and I wanted these dancers to get that type of training. I want them to have hip hop or funk or whatevr you want to call it. And I want him to be able have jazz. And what’s funny is like, honestly, the teachers that are teaching this intercourse are either people I grew up dancing with like you or the teachers that taught me. So I’m like, it really is like, um, like Marguerite and Alex and people. I used to take classes from that I love and Mmm. So hopefully it will, all of this will pass and if not, we’ll figure out something. I don’t know. Maybe it will do zoom classes or something, but
Hey, we will get creative. That is what this time calls for lots of creativity. All right, Tiler thank you so much again. I will talk to you very soon.
Dana: Oh right. Talk about a myth. Oh, a meaning wind set. Talk about a meaning wind set. Everybody talk about a winning mindset rather. Jeez. Winning on winning, on winning. I really love the way that Tiler thinks about emerging different, not wrong or not worse from her injury. It honestly reminds me of episode eight and talking about doing it bright instead of doing it right. Finding the value in doing it your way and that whatever your way is is the best way for you to do it. I especially love how Tiler reframed her thoughts around the injury from being the victim to being the beneficiary. She literally went from thinking, why is this happening to me? Or why is this happening at all to how is this happening for me? What could this bring to me? And that’s something I think we could all use a little practice working on right now. So let’s get to work. Grab a pen, grab a piece of paper and think of a topic, a circumstance. Maybe it’s the Corona virus, maybe it’s lock-down, maybe it’s training at home. Now dump all of your thoughts about that topic onto the page. But first split the page, hot dog style. On the left, we’re going to keep all of our negative, dark, nasty, big, ugly thoughts. We’ll call it big ugly column. And then on the right we’ll put all the positive captain brightside, we’ll call it the bright and beauty column. Now for every negative thought, I want you to write two positive ones. Since our brains are wired to care about disease and danger to keep us alive, this might be challenging. So I’ll help you by giving a couple examples.
Big, ugly thought. People are dying. This is true. Bright beauty thought. People are coming together. People are caring for each other. People are fighting to keep each other alive.
Let’s take another big ugly thought. Um, I could get sick. I could die. Bright beauty thought, let’s go with the obvious one. You could also not get sick. You could live to be a hundred. It’s a possibility. Uh, let’s do one more big, ugly thought. Um, I’m going to lose my job and run out of money. Bright beauty thought I cannot lose my talent and I will not lose my training. Prepared with those things and my bright mind, I can make more money. Notice I’m not encouraging you to delete or resist big uglies. They are worthy of your attention and they are valid, especially right now. I guess I’m simply encouraging you to spend equal air time on the bright beauties, the winning thoughts, if you will. I will leave you with that for today, and also I will leave you with my new tagline. Stay safe, stay soapy and stay funky.
Thought you were done. No. Now I’m here to remind you that all of the important people, places and things mentioned in this episode can be found on my website theDanawilson.com/podcast finally, and most importantly now you have a way to become a words that move me member, so kickball, change over to patreon.com/WTMMpodcast to learn more and join. All right, everybody now i’m really done. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll talk to you soon.
Ep. #11 Is a Small Social Media Following Keeping you from BIG Work? (with Sam Hersch)
Dana: Before we get into the good stuff! We’d like to announce our Instagram Contest winners! The following 5 “demi” prize winners will be receiving a Words That Move Me Shoe Bag, to keep the shoes funky and keep the rest of your gear funk free!
Thanks everyone and congrats! Now, Let’s got to it!
Dana: Today I’m going to share little bits of a conversation that I had with a very special guest, a special guy named Sam Hirsch. Now I have known Sam since I think 2012 but this conversation was sparked because I ran into him recently. Uh, while I was teaching a class at movement lifestyle, I was making a mad dash for the restroom, like in the middle of class, had the moment, had to do it. And I saw Sam in the lobby and he handed me this flyer, like a full page flyer with a lot of words on it. And I was like, Sam, Oh man. Good to see you. Can’t read this right now. Send me an email. So later that night I had an email from Sam. It was a couple of attachments, um, a user guide and then a questionnaire. Now this is something that he’s been working on since June of 2019 and the purpose of the questionnaire is to get to the bottom of the question, how is social media influencing the dance industry and an individual dancers life?
So I opened the attachment for the user’s guide, which was 12 pages long and I flashed back to the lobby area moment where I was like, Sam, I don’t have time for this in this moment. Email me. And then the email moment was another moment. So I asked Sam if he would be willing to come onto the podcast and just hash this out over a microphone, um, and see what we can uncover about that massive question. How is social media influencing dance and is your social media presence as important or more important than your actual live work? So I asked Sam to come on the podcast and he said yes, and then he did come on the podcast and then we did talk for three hours. So this is an edited version of our conversation. Um, we really covered a whole lot of stuff, how we met years and years ago when I was teaching at millennium. Um, how I use my social media, how I consider it to be like a store front. The concept that I covered in last week’s episode, which if you haven’t yet, please go check out episode 10. Um, what else did we talk about? We talked about um, how he started creating this questionnaire and how he decided to unplug for a little while after working so hard on the subject of social media in dance. You know, that was sort of his impetus to, to get off the app for a little while. And you know what, I’ve actually thought about doing that too. Um, although with all of the exciting stuff that you daily doers are getting into out there, I don’t think my break will be happening anytime this year. I absolutely love seeing what everybody’s doing out there. Please keep up the good work and keep hashtagging doing daily. W T M M yes, there it is. #doingdailyWTMM alright. Without any further ado, let’s get into this conversation with Sam and see what we can dig up about social media and the way it is affecting the lives of creative types.
Dana: Sam, take the floor. Tell us a little bit about yourself, your relationship to dance and the project that you’re working on.
Sam: All right, thanks Dana. So the short version of my history with dance is that when I was 18 or 19 and I graduated, I had been in out of high school for about a year. Uh, my very good friend from high school ended up joining culture shock San Diego. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that at all. Um, she was on the troop for about two years this is before the days of following anybody on, on Instagram or Twitter or Facebook or anything. I would literally follow her to San Diego, um, to see her perform. Um, my first experience watching professional dancers in Los Angeles was um, in 2011 culture shock made one of their rare trips up to Los Angeles where they participated in Tessandra Chavez’s traffic show. And that was the first time that I saw Unity LA long before Tessandra knew where unity LA was going to go on long before any of my friends ended up being involved in that. And after that I started taking classes at millennium on a pretty regular basis. That’s where I met Marty and that’s where I met you. And, um, that is also where I began to notice, although I didn’t think much of it at the time, the influence, Mmm. For lack of a better word of social media on the dance industry. I remember being in the room when Willdabeast taught upgrade you at millennium now that was the night before he went to Ida and recorded it. And, and the rest is, they say, is history,
Dana: Right? Viral internet history.
Yup. And ever since then I’ve, I’ve kind of started to notice, um, the influence of social media on the dance world. And I remember speaking to the person who was designing my website and telling her that of of all the artists in the world, singers, actors, dancers, a dancer’s life has been the most impacted by social media. And these questions are my attempt at getting really to the heart of, Oh, what that relationship is like. not being a professional dancer, I don’t consider it my right to judge how people use social media. But there’s a part of me as a person with a disability that doesn’t want people to be excluded in any sense. The, the, the dance community remains as welcoming as it has ever been. To and not only to people like me, but to everyone without having the burden of get your following up over your head. Right. You understand what I mean?
Dana: Cool. Well, I would like to dig into that with you, um, if that’s okay. I sort of will treat this, I guess as like a, a cross interview perhaps. And then, um, we’ll close up with, uh, I’ll just have you ask me all of the questions on that questionnaire and we’ll see if I pass wink, wink.
Um, so I guess if we’re going to talk about that big question, what is the relationship between a dancer’s social media presence and their live performance? I, I really think it’s a beautiful thing and one of the most unique things about dance as a fine art is that unlike a painting or a sculpture, which stays there while you get to behold and think about and reflect on, it dances moving and then it’s gone and it’s over. And I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about it. But I also think that there’s great power in, in the capture of it so that it can exist long after the moment that it was created in where it gets ugly is when we start determining our value based on views based on follows. And I think that that is really up to the person. As you mentioned, you’ve taken actions towards protecting yourself from falling into the cycle of seeking external validation. You know, you got rid of the social media or maybe you regulate it. Maybe you only look at comments once week, maybe you don’t look at them ever. You know, I think our techniques in terms of coping with that or whatever works and that’s going to be different from person to person. But um, is that helpful? Does that answer the question?
It does and it is helpful. And, and, and, and the reason why I wrote it as a questionnaire or not a blog is because, because I, I wanted to get answers from people rather than being an armchair critic or in my very literal case, a wheelchair critic and write what I thought.
Right. Well, I think in any situation, a, a discussion is better than a seminar. I think we learned so much more from these things and are able to go so much deeper with feedback with conversation opposed to just, you know, standing on a box and shouting through cone. What is that whats a, megaphone. There it is a mega cone.
Dana: Yeah. Okay. Seminars are good. Discussions are better, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on what a dancer’s relationship is, can be or should be with social media. As I mentioned last week, I think the majority of us use Facebook, YouTube, Instagram of some sort, but if you don’t use any of those things, I would especially love to hear from you. The way that you would do that is to slide into the comments on my website, the Dana wilson.com/podcast under episode 10 wait a second. This is episode 11 episode 11 wait, I gotta double check that, confirmed.
This is episode 11 all right, next, Sam and I scribbled ourselves into talking about the what ifs. What if social media went away tomorrow? Would you still be okay? I’ll tell you what dance would be. Okay. Dancers would be okay. We would still make dance. We’d just put it somewhere else. Okay, here’s another one. If what if you had to be popular to get work? Well then we wouldn’t have Monet. We wouldn’t have Edgar Allen Poe and other weirdos. Like actually Vincent Vango. I don’t know if this is true, but I’ve heard that he only sold a single painting during his lifetime, but today you cannot hear that name without immediately thinking art or artist. It’s wild, right? So popularity and value not connected. I mean, I’d say they’re not mutually exclusive. You have quality and you have quantity like you know, number of followers. I guess you can’t have a Venn diagram where there’s a center circle there where you have a really, really awesome thing that gets a lot of attention.
Beyonce, for example, man, I really, I held out for a long time. You guys. I was not a fan for awhile, but I think it was her. Um, Oh no. It was the year of Rhianna’s MTV Vanguard award that Beyonce performed and absolutely roasted. It was insane. I, I subscribed at that moment, I was onboard, she was flawless and that was a big bite of a performance. Holy smokes. Okay. Maybe sidebar Beyonce episode down the road. We’ll jump to it. What if, what else did Sam and I talk about in the what ifs front. Oh, what if things keep going like they’re going right now and that’s where we’ll jump in. Check it out.
Dana: You know, I do, I imagine a world where social media keeps going like it is like, I’ll, I’ll say it right now. I have, I actually don’t know that I have 32,000 and some change followers. And that used to be, I remember when I broke 30,000 and I was like, Oh my God, that’s a big deal. I’m a mega star. And now I’m on the other side of casting tables, listening to people say things like, I don’t know, she only has 300,000 followers. We really need somebody with more pull. And I’m like, my mind is blown because I’m like, that’s larger than countries. Like that’s bananas. Um, so I, I have seen that working in ways that are distasteful to me, but I also do try to remember that if not for social media, the cost of entry into the industry used to be a, you had to have paid for a dance education, right? You had to have paid for good headshots, you have to be in the room in LA at the one audition that that one choreographer has in six months or whatever. And then additionally under that, you have to be having a good day. You have to be remembered as being great. Versus on Instagram you get to curate. I get to decide what I put up there and it is there 24 hours a day working for me for free. So I really, you know, it’s got, it’s got its ups and downs for me. But that’s in a nutshell, that’s kind of my, that’s my love. Hate with “soceh meeds” Oh my God. I said social media. Sorry. Julian Meyers, if you’re listening, she hates. Mmm. Uh, abbreviations. So it is, sorry, Julie. Um, okay. So I don’t know. Do you have anything else you’d like to ask me before we get into the questionnaire?
Sam: Well, when, well we’ll just to clarify what you said on my end. I am, I’m not trying to, to bring the dance industry back to the pre social media kind of era, but all I would want to come out of this, of this questionnaire is when you go to auditions, you guys should fight for the opportunity to be seen live and not let um, your social media presence or lack there of exclude you from actually participating in the audition. Like you were meant to.
Sam mentions the idea that social media could be excluding people from taking part in auditions. This brings up a lot of big and pretty important questions. Does having a small following or anything other than a huge following keep you from being seen at auditions? Really? does it keep you from getting management or an agent’s representation? What is small and what is huge following? Anyways, all of these questions are really, really important. So I put my feelers out to some of top agents here in LA to get some answers. And here is what I learned.
I learned that there are now full blown departments and agencies dedicated exclusively to representing talent in the digital space, um, representing “influencers” In other words, and I am sure that those places look for specific things in terms of an individual’s following, but none of the dance agencies that I know of and certainly none that I spoke to, require a minimum number of social media followers to get signed. In other words, you can have three Instagram followers or no Instagram at all and still get a top agent here in LA. That is great news. It’s great news both for the talent and for the agents. Think about it this way. If agents only signed people with a specific range of followers that would really limit their talent pool, it is absolutely in their best interest to represent the best. And one of the best things about having an agent is that you get notified of auditions and projects that you would be a good fit for.
Which leads me to my next question. How many audition breakdowns are asking exclusively to see talent with large followings? Well, the responses I got to this question were kind of all over the board, but I got the gist that there are certain types of projects that are more likely to make that ask. Music videos, specifically music videos for up and coming. Artists that don’t have a really big pull yet, they want a big builtin audience. They want to hire talent that’s going to attract a lot of eyeballs. One agent that I spoke to said that roughly 20% of music video auditions care about a social media following. That’s not to say that they absolutely won’t consider someone without a big following, but it’s a common ask. It’s something that it looked for 20% okay.
Even more striking than that, almost everyone I spoke to said that almost all projects seeking a lead, male or lead female, imagine like a Co-Star scenario, a love interest, if you will, for a music video. Almost all of these castings are looking for somebody with a quote, large social following. So I asked what is large social following and again I got some mixed responses, but the low end there was about a hundred thousand that’s a pretty big number. Let’s back up a little bit here. Sam also mentioned that he hopes that a dancer’s social media or lack thereof wouldn’t keep them from being seen in auditions. Now to that, I really have to say from my experience auditioning, which is hefty, that once you’re in the room you could have 100,000 followers. You have negative 100,000 followers. If you roast, which is code for crush it, which is code code for really, really do well, you will be seen. period. In the room. There is no substitute for talent and until that black mirror day where our number of followers is glowing over our head, all you see in the room is your talent. So two thumbs up for auditions and simultaneously two thumbs down for auditions because they’re tough no matter who you are. It’s just kind of an unnatural experience. Speaking of auditions, however, I’ve got big plans.
August is going to be Audition August. Every single episode happening in the month of August is going to point to crushing it at auditions. Get ready for that. Okay. Whew. So now let’s see what else we can uncover about the effects of social media on a modern dancer. Not a modern dancer. Well maybe modern dancers also, but modern day dancers and our way of working
Sam’s questionnaire is 35 questions long, but because I talk a lot, we jumped around a lot. Give a listen and answer for yourself as we go. And if you’d like to go deeper, you can visit Sam’s website. Questions for dancers.com. Okay, here we go.
Sam: Before an artist’s begins to cultivate their social media presence, what’s the first thing they should know about that world?
Um, the, the dance world or the social media worldr
The social media world.
Ah, ooo. Um, I would say that the most important thing to know about the social media world is that it will be whatever you make it, it will mean exactly whatever you make it mean to you. If you treat it like it is the most important thing in the world, it will be the governing force of your life. If you treat it like a fun opportunity to share your work and your breakfast, then it’ll be exactly that.
Right. Well, Question 2 what is more important. Bear in mind, I use the word artists here, but I really mean dancer in some sense. What is more important that an artist should work on their craft first or begin to cultivate a social media presence?
Ooh. Um, to that I would say is it possible to do both at once? Is it possible to genuinely work on your training and nurture, um, a public presence? Yeah, I think it is.
Is it entirely possible for an artist to operate outside of the social media sphere these days?
Ooh, I love this question and I think about it all of the time. Um, although it is rare, I would say yes. Uh, actually I just saw an interview with the star of the film 1917 George McKay. Um, and by the way, the film is nominated for 10 Oscars, including best film. And he is the, he’s the star of the film. I don’t even know if there’s a shot that doesn’t have him in it. He’s on, on screen the entire time and he does not have social media. So yes, definitely possible.
Regarding any promotional content for a class or a convention or, or any other performance, what’s your perspective on collaborating with other social media personalities for promotional content? I.e. YouTube videos.
Okay. Um, I, I think strategically using, uh, collaborating with other personalities for lack of a, I’ll call them humans. Um, collaborative, collaborating with other humans is, I think the most practical way of expanding your audience. Right? If I have 12 people watching my videos and only those 12 people watch my videos, Mmm. Then we’ve, you know, we’ve hit the ceiling. It’s not until I texting my friend Sam and I’m like, “Hey Sam, what are your 12 people doing right now? Do you think your 12 people would be interested in joining my 12 people to listen to his talk? And you’re like, Oh my gosh, yes.” And that’s how 12 becomes 24 and so on and so forth. So, um, I, I don’t use YouTube as often when it comes to promotion. Instagram is my platform of choice for like class promotion, stuff like that.
All right. How do you make sure any person that might have a consequential will impact on your career, an agent, et cetera. Mmm. Is drawn to your own unique personality and attitude as opposed to your social media presence. And if an opportunity for performance comes your way, that’s life changing. How do you make sure that the person responsible for that opportunity looks beyond your social media presence, gets to know you and is it necessary to remind that person to look beyond your social media presence and know the real you?
Oh man, this is loaded. All right. So the short answer to that, that long and pretty nuanced question I think would be if the social media person and the actual person are the same thing, then there’s not a lot to worry about. On the subject of how do you get people to look like how do you get someone to be interested? How do you get someone to care? To that, I am afraid, I would say that is out of your control. All I can control is the way I respond to the circumstances in my world and how I put myself forward. Mmm. You know, in what I call the storefront. I consider my Instagram account to basically be, it’s, it’s my storefront. If I were a retail business, it would be the, the place that people go to find all things me. So everything I put in that store is something that I’m proud of and something that is uniquely me. And I, um, I, I wish I could say I really don’t care if it’s right for the job. I can’t say that I’m not heartbroken when I don’t get the job, but I, I am training myself to believe that it wasn’t meant to be. If it, if it doesn’t become mine, it was not meant to be mine. I’ve done it again. I’ve made it a monologue. I’m sorry, but I, I think we’ve got to stop trying to change social media, stop trying to change the world and just change the way that we think about it changed the way that we operate in it
Sure. Absolutely. And, and, and that brings us to, to our last, um, set of questions. Mmm. There, there are only two more cause I just had to skip a few. What are the rules for master classes in your, in the social media age? And I consider myself very grateful and very lucky to have been in the room. Um, on a number of occasions. I’m a number of classes long before the camera or the camera rig ever comes out.
Right. And in some cases it is literally a jib, like a full blown rig with lighting and Oh, it’s wild. What is come of dance class is wild
if you were to wave a magic wand, what would be the ideal rules for, um, social media, his relationship to, um, master classes. And what would you say to kids in those master classes?
Hmm. Mmm. This is another loaded question because again, one of the beautiful things about dance and the way it’s taught is that there is no one syllabus, there is no school, single school of dance that says this is how it is taught and this is the best way to teach it and this is the only way to teach it. And once you graduate from this school, then you go and get a certificate and then you can go teach to other people. That just isn’t the way our world works. And I’m thankful for that because everybody has a different style of learning and everybody has a different style of teaching. Um, that said, if, if I go to wave a magic wand, it would simply be open discourse around the subject. I will be transparent with my class when I say I am going to film this next group. I have a theory about in the classroom that cameras actually don’t change anything about the energy or the environment in the room. It is our thoughts about the cameras that change the energy and the environment in the room. Cameras are just pieces of glass and plastic. They don’t mean anything except for little bits of light are received by a sensor. And this moment will ask outside of this room in a digital sense but not in a actual sense like scientifically, this moment will end and it will be over and I will be fine whether or not I mess up, whether or not I am in the last group, whatever. So I, I would just like there to be more conversation around the topic. Um, I would like for a little bit more transparency. I definitely as a teacher I would definitely like for students to consider asking permission from the teacher before filming themselves in class. Um, I get really distracted when I see dancers off to the side. Again, I’ve been teaching for a convention for a really long time and I see first of all blowing my mind that some like seven year olds have iphones it just takes some getting used to, but off to the sides I see little seven year olds filming each other, dancing during my class and um, that has raised little flags for me. Um, and I’m kind of working with my cell phone. What I’m making that mean? I think it means they want to share that moment and to them sharing means filming and then posting. I know that there are different ways to share that moment but they don’t. So I might in my class talk about the different ways you can share the different ways that you can measure your progress. But again, I believe that video is one of the best ways to measure your progress and a visual art like dance. So, um, I, I would just love for there to be more discourse around it. I would love for us to have some more transparency, talk about it and um, yeah, period. Good. I seriously, I could talk forever.
Okay. Okay. Okay. Last two questions. And these are very loaded set of questions. Are you pressured? Did take jobs or work with people because of their or yours? Social media presence
Pressured is an interesting word to use there. I did mention a little earlier. Um, yes, I have been on the other side of the casting table or I’ve been uh, a choreographer on projects where we’re casting talent and are taking followings into consideration. But I think when it comes to um, commercial dance and I say commercial dance meaning dance that is used to sell a product, whether that product is an album or Amazon prime or whatever. I consider commercial dance to anything that exists to sell a product including class. Is that you are engaging in somewhat of a business transaction and you have to make transactional decisions based on certain values and having built in audience, having eyeballs knowing that your product will be seen is a consideration that I understand. Yes, I have felt pressured to work with certain people because of their followings. I have also experienced situations where if I present the right person following or not, if they have the right talent, I have seen productions change their mind and say yes, that is undeniably who we need regardless of a following.
You know, what I took away from your user guide to the questionnaire is that you are a person who undeniably, relentlessly supports dance in the dance community. You’re there paying for classes, you’re there going to the shows, you are there both in person and you know when you’re sitting doing this work, I’m sure countless hours at your computer or over a journal hashing out these ideas, trying to help the community improve. And I see you as being frustrated that at times the dance industry or the dance community doesn’t support itself. And from the outside looking in, that’s what, um, it looks like this project could achieve. And I hope that people were, as we’re answering these questions along with us because it was very informative for me.
I cannot thank you enough for taking this time, Sam, and doing this work. Asking these questions I think is very, very important, uh, that we be having these conversations. So cheers to you and thank you so much
Dana It’s my pleasure and thank you. Thank you so much.
You are so welcome. I will talk to you soon. Sam
Have a good night, Dana.
Dana: All right everybody. I hope that got your social wheels turning. One of my biggest takeaways from that conversation is that there are really a lot of misconceptions around what a social media following means in terms of your work. I would really argue that it is the work itself, the content, the actual stuff and not the number of followers that factors most into getting you more stuff, more work. I also believe there’s a difference between doing it for the gram as they say and doing it for the doing and simply sharing it on the gram. The latter is the insta world that I want to live in and thanks to getting to choose who I follow. It actually is the world that I live in and I love it. I really love it. I see great value to it. So I want to take a quick moment to shout out my favorite social media accounts of late that have less than a hundred thousand followers and of course I have to start that list off with my fellow seaweed sisters, Jilly Meyers. That’s J. I. L. L. Y. M. E. Y. E. R. S. the one and only
Megan Lawson, M. E. G. A. N. G. U. W. R. E. and the story behind Guwre is a story that I will let Megan tell for herself when we have our seaweed sessions on the podcast. Oh, speaking of seaweed, obviously the seaweed sisters @theseaweedsisters spell it just like it sounds, um, without any spaces or interesting characters because we’re all the interesting character you need. See how I did that. Um, okay. Also, please, Holy smokes, get your phone right now. This is important. Go follow @jamsv, which is Jermaine Spivey at JA M S V Y as well as Spenser Theberge, which I’m hoping I’m saying that last name right. It gets me every time. His handle is @spensermyles and that is a Spenser with an S, ladies and gentlemen. S.P.E.N.S.E.R.M.Y.L.E.S. and one of my favorite lady birds. The one and only Cindy Salgado. She is at C.I.N.D.Y.B.E.T.H.S.A.L.G.A.D.O which leads me to my next favorite lady type Michelle Dorrance and Dorrance dance. You guys get with it. I was lucky enough to get to see them perform at USC last week and my mind was blown. My eardrums were tickled, my heart was warmed, all of the good things so, so impressed and inspired. Um, check her out at M. A. S. H. D. E. E. Z. as in zebra. And the company is at D. O. R. R. A. N. C E D. A. N. C. E. that’s DorranceDance. So good. Speaking of, so good. One of my favorite movers is also a director and she is wildly talented. Her name is Mimi Cave. Please go check her out on the internet, but also on the gram, she’s @M I M I C A V E and one final super special human. This was a, a person that I got to meet when I was working on In the Heights and I’m so glad that I did. His name is Haseem and his handle is Gorilla Sage. So follow him at G. O. R I. L. L. A. underscore S. A. G. E. beautiful soul, beautiful human, beautiful mover, and some really special stuff on his page.
So, um, yeah, that’s it for my share for the day. I hope you enjoyed this episode and I hope that this keeps the conversation around healthy social media relationships going, um, you know the deal. Well, you know the deal. You know where to find me at words that move me podcast on Instagram. I’m @danadaners of course, and you are keeping it funky. I hope that was kind of a stretch. That wasn’t a really good sign off moment. Where should we do? What should we do? What should we do? Sign off. Sign off. Side off. Vocal. Warm up. Sign off. Keep it funky everybody. I’ll see you next week. I won’t see you. I will talk to you. I will talk to you next week. Have a great rest of your day night. Awesome. Bye.
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, master mover, Dana Wilson, and if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story than sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hello. Hello. Hello. I am Dana. Welcome to the podcast. I am so glad that you are here right now. I am excited to talk to you today. Whoa, this is a big one. All right, so with the Words that Move Me Instagram contest going on right now, Oh, right now, by the way, is the last couple of days of February and heading into March. Oh my gosh. It’s almost March. I can’t really handle it. Time is flying so super fast. Anyways, it’s the last couple of days of February heading into March and until March 9th Words that Move Me has an Instagram contest happening, so make sure you go check out our Instagram page to get all of the details on how you can be involved, how you can win and what you can win.
It’s all very exciting stuff, but because of the contest, social media has been on the brain and actually to be honest, contest aside, social media has been on the brain. There’s a lot of talk around this right now. It seems kind of an unavoidable subject. It’s like this part of our lives now. It seems to be. Anyways, I’m sure that there is a small contingent, possibly very, very small. Maybe just a few of my listeners that still exist completely handle free and hats off to you. I actually would love to know what that is like. Um, I haven’t checked, but I’m very curious about how many hours a day. I know on average I spend a little over three hours a day on my phone, but out of that, I wonder how much of that is inside of Instagram, which is my preferred social media platform. I digress. I’d say that the sweeping majority of humans, probably age 16 to maybe 40, uh, have social media of some sort, whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, YouTube or all of them. Oh, tik tok. Oh my goodness. Which I don’t have, but I hear that I quote need people tell me this like, Oh my God, you need to tik tok. And that’s very funny because I feel totally fine without one. But then again, I have never had one. It is very possible that I haven’t even lived yet because I don’t have tik tok, tik tok. Am I, am I sounding ridiculous? The tik tok? Do you use the tik tok? I’m cracking myself up anyways.
I think that social media for the most part gets a bad reputation for a lot of really good reasons. For example, it is literally designed to devour your attention. There are engineers who are paid to think of ways to keep your eyeballs on the screen longer so that they can show you more ads so that you can click more clicks so that they can make more money. And that is understandable. It is not virtuous, but I understand it. I get it. Here’s another example. Places like Instagram, especially our cesspools for comparison and competition that can really wreak havoc on you and your internal self-worth. I say that because the feed that you scroll through is full of very carefully curated and usually very heavily edited moments from lives of people that you care about, people that you chose to follow, they matter to you for some reason and you spend time looking at these carefully picked pixels from their lives and if you weren’t already comparing their life to your life, look down a little further and you see that handy dandy value system that Instagram has created to keep you clicking.
So all right. To be clear, I believe comparison and competition exist in abundance out there in the real physical world. But in my experience comparing our bodies, our work, our wins, our losses, all of that good stuff in person is like comparing apples and oranges or like apples and high heeled shoes or Panda bears. Like when you’re face to face, you see humans, you see three dimensional people that are infinitely different than you are in number of ways, but in the two dimensional world on the page, a like is a like. A heart is a heart. A follow is a follow and when she has 50,000 and I have five, it can be very hard to ignore. It can be very hard to not compare and it can be really hard to believe that I am not less. Well, here’s my angle. I believe that we are all worth exactly the same and I don’t believe that our likes and follows quantify our worth period, the end, but I’m not done.
In addition to being a time vampire in a place that can make us wildly insecure about ourselves, the social media jungle is also a place where bullying and false information run rampant. This is probably because somebody figured out that negativity and really polarized opinions, spike engagement that gets people clicking, it gets people talking. Well, engagement equals ad dollars, so you’re going to see a lot of the things that spike engagement. Also, it’s way easier to say awful things from the comfort of your own home and the other side of the screen, so that pretty much explains that. Sounds pretty grim, right?
Wrong. I actually love Instagram. It is my favorite social media platform. I mean I don’t love it like I love my husband, but I think it’s kind of great. Let me explain. Instagram and YouTube are both free and they’re a perfect place for me to put my work and get almost immediate feedback. I do it all the time. I mean not all the time, certainly not as much as I used to, but still pretty often. People argue that social media is making us reclusive and that because of it, people don’t know how to like interface with each other IRL, which is internet talk for in real life, but no matter how you slice it, social media is connective. I have met some of my heroes in person shaken their hands, actually collaborated with them because of Instagram, because that’s where we made our first contact. I also have a direct link to an audience. Well, I guess technically it’s not direct if it has to go through Instagram. In other words, if Instagram disappeared tomorrow, I would lose contact with a lot of people, which is really unfortunate. I might be putting an ask out there for some phone numbers and email addresses, surely, just be able to look out for that. Um, anyways, I have a link to people all over the world, right? I’m in the United States, I’m in California, I’m in Los Angeles. I’m talking to people in Paris, France, in, in Italy, in China, in India, in Australia. I mean, it’s actually wild to me that I can reach someone on the other side of the planet almost instantly. I’m impressed. I’m onboard to say the very least. So I call this my middle child syndrome. And by the way, I have a really bad case of it.
I can see both sides of almost any issue. In next week’s episode a very special guest and I are going go deep on some of the issues and perceived challenges of being a creative type living in a social media era. But this week I’m going to talk about how I treat my social media. I really hope you dig this approach and um, that some of these strategies are helpful in making your relationship with your social media a happy and healthy one. Now I’m sure there are a lot of people out there that are going to tell you how to post and when to post and what to post. And I’m just going to let you know right now, I’m not going to do all that. So if that is what you’re hoping for it, you can go ahead and stop listening right now. But otherwise get a pen and paper ready or at very least your imagination cause I’m going to ask you to get involved in this one.
All right. We’re talking social media very broadly, but my favorite platform is Instagram as I mentioned. And that’s where I have the most experience. It’s also very visual, heavy and very text light. And that’s why I think it speaks to most dancers. So it’s where my point of view is going to come from for now. Here we go. I like to think of my social media presence as a virtual Superstore. It is an establishment or several where people go to find all things me, my moves, my face, and occasionally my breakfast foods. I think of each platform like YouTube or Insta, Twitter as actual brick and mortar chain stores. And I imagine that I am a business, which is easy because I am a business. Um, and as such I am responsible for things like, um, deciding where I put my branches or my store locations, deciding what I put in my windows, deciding what I keep inside and what I keep in backstock and how I price things. And beyond that, what kind of experience people can expect when they come in. Okay. I teach this concept occasionally and I always start by asking what is your favorite place to go shopping, a little bit consumerist, but go with me here. Whether it’s food or clothing or school supplies or tools or anything. Just what is your favorite place to shop? I’ll get the answer and then I ask for three reasons why and after I have those I ask. Okay, so what is it like to shop there? What is the experience that you have? I’ll run through my own answers as an example. All right. My answer, embarrassingly enough, as a 33 year old woman is Urban Outfitters. I am so sorry about that. There are probably way more socially conscious, sustainable, locally sourced, organic free range, Raw, gluten free vegan places to shop. And I know urban probably has like several strikes against it that I don’t even know about and I worked there for several years so I know about it, but I still like the feeling of shopping there. And uh, here’s the why.
Number one, it’s bright as in lumens and as in colors. All of the colors of the rainbow. And I love color. Number two, it’s eclectic. There are many different styles and styles of styles in that place. You’ve got your black leather with studs and holey t-shirts, you’ve got your lace with ruffles and sophisticated blazer things and you’ve got sneakers, and stilettos and literally everything in between. And number three, they seem to have really mastered this seriously silly thing. Everytime I go in there, I see something that makes me laugh, whether it’s a graphic tee or a silly book or some novelty. It just always seems to get a chuckle. But the business is undoubtedly refined. So that I think speaks to my values. Right? I love bright, I love many different styles. I love being seriously silly and somehow refined. That’s kind of me. So in a way I think that asking yourself, what’s your favorite store to shop at can actually teach you a lot about your values.
Okay, so the followup question is what is it like to shop there? Well, again, eclectic, but overall very, very casual and that’s speaks to my values as well. I like to be personable and I feel like the staff at urban is pretty personable in their own way. Sometimes it’s like the way of your best friend who’s going to really honestly tell you how those pants look on you. And sometimes it’s in the way of the kid who’s going gonna blow spit wads at the back of your head during class and it’s going to be inconvenienced by everything that you ask them. I kind of am not mad at either of those. I love the full range. Okay, so in addition to those things, it’s light, it’s fun and it’s fast. Again, that speaks to my values. Here’s another example.
This time we’ll take the other side of the spectrum. Let’s say that Tom Ford in Beverly Hills is our absolute favorite place to shop. All right? Why? Okay. Number one, it is modern, minimal, extremely clean and uncluttered. Your eye knows exactly where to go and it goes to absolutely pristine product. Number two, it is luxury from the plush carpet to the garments themselves. And number three, it is indisputable quality made from the absolute finest and tailored to your body. Boom, Tom Ford. Okay. What is it like to shop in there? Well, there’s a doorman first of all, so there’s that, pretty exclusive. You’ve got a book by appointment and it’s expensive. That in and of itself is kind of exclusive.
But once you’re in the door, you are catered to and you feel like the million bucks that you’re about to drop, which happens quite fast, I heard from a friend, let’s, let’s go even further left. Let’s say for the sake of an example that your favorite place to shop is home Depot, which is ironic because I hate shopping at Home Depot. Literally the worst I can almost guarantee that they will not have what I’m looking for. They will have every item surrounding the items that I’m looking for and then there will be an empty hole where the medium sized boxes used to live or the very specific type of washers that I need for my shower head. It’s like almost a joke. How often they do not have the thing I need and how frustrated I get by that. But anyway, for the sake of these examples, let’s pretend that your favorite place to shop is Home Depot. Why do you like it? Other than the fact that they have what you want all the time. Um, so let’s say you love it because number one, it’s no frills, nothing extra, nothing ridiculously distracting. No bright colors or flashing neon signs with sales and crazy things like that. What you see is what you get or what you don’t get for that matter. I digress. Number two, it’s expansive. They have literally everything including the kitchen sink except the one thing that you’re looking for. Sorry, I’ll stop making stabs at Home Depot now. Okay. And I’m, let’s say number three, if I really had to dig, sorry, I’m done. I’m done. Um, number three, they really are about DIY and I have had a handful of really, really helpful people there that have told me the things I need to know or taught me the things I need to know in order to get the job done and do it myself. I really do value that. That is super cool. So what is it like to shop in home Depot? Um, sprawling, um, informative. You see things and you learn about things that you didn’t even know existed and uh, you’ll be back because undoubtedly after you leave that place, you will find out that you need something else from that place. And that’s kind of a brilliant thing I suppose. So. Okay. How does this all relate to social media? Again, uh, let’s, let’s take a look back at my urban Outfitters example and I’ll explain
When I’m looking at a video or photo and deciding whether or not to post it, I ask myself, is this one of the three things that I decided I love most about the place I like shopping most in my Urban Outfitters example? Is it bright? Is it eclectic and is it equal parts serious and silly? If I can’t answer yes to one of those questions, then I won’t share the video or photo at all. Generally, my rule for myself is that it has to meet at least two of those three criteria. And then occasionally it meets all three and I find myself legit excited to share this thing. That’s my way of deciding what gets put in my store. My guiding principle is that I want my store to represent me and my values and what I have to offer. I want it to feel a little bit like me. Bright, eclectic and seriously silly. Now you and your values will likely be different than mine. Maybe you value sleek, clean, minimal, luxury. Maybe you value specificity. A store that specializes in one thing and doing that one thing really, really, really right. Maybe your entire feed is black and white. Maybe your entire feed is landscape. Maybe your entire feed is nail art and that’s kind of the beauty of it is it gets to be whatever you make it. I had a student once as I was teaching this concept that really, really valued oranges. Like she told me her favorite place to shop was a grocery store because they have oranges and she loves them and I asked her to think of something else she liked about the grocery store and she couldn’t. Now part of me thinks she was being difficult just for the game of it, but I went with it. Cause this is kind of brilliant. Imagine you’ve got a 13 year old social media feed that looks like any other 13 year old social media feed except in this one there is an orange hidden somewhere but visible in every single post. I would follow that account. Absolutely. And there would be an element of creativity involved. I think it’s fabulous. I think it’s hysterical. I think it’s an opportunity to get really creative and also to start looking at yourself and taking responsibility for yourself as a professional entity, as a business, as a place that people go to find you. That said, it’s really important to me that my social media presence represents the real me and my real values and my real work. The storefront analogy is simply helpful in narrowing down the content and things that I share to the world because it is important to remember whether you delete it or not. It exists out there forever. Ask me how I know. Don’t ask, don’t ask. So here’s what I really like about this analogy, this storefront analogy is that I, the store owner, decide the value of the things that I put on the shelves, not somebody else’s, like not somebody else’s follow just me.
So I would love for you to take a moment, give a little brainstorm, write down to your favorite places to shop or spend time. Doesn’t even need to be a store. Technically, it could be a park, it could be Disneyland, but right, your favorite place that you like to spend time and occasionally money and get three reasons why. Then do a tiny little brain download on the experience that you have in that place and then use that as a guiding principle every time you decide what you want to share and sell to the world. Alright? This is simply my approach. I’m not saying it’s the best, but I’m saying it’s something. I would love, love, love to hear some of your social media approaches. How do you decide what to post? Do you care about when? Let’s talk about this. Leave some comments on the Instagram page or at theDanawilson.com/podcast under the comments for this episode, make sure you listen in next week as I talk to my super special guests about all sorts of social media mystery. This is, this is really the tip of the iceberg, or I guess this is like the technique of the iceberg. Next week we’re going to get into some of the muddy waters, so don’t miss that. Sounds like fun, huh? All right. Everybody have a good rest of your day. Night, week, month, and uh, you know the deal. Keep it funky. Oh man. So good. Oh, speaking of, keep it funky we got Merch coming. You didn’t hear from me.
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 artists story, then sit tight but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hello, hello friends. Welcome to the podcast. We’ll come back if you’re a recurring listener and welcome, welcome for the first time. If this is your first time listening, I’m stoked to be talking to you today. I’m very excited about this episode, but before I get into that I want to talk about something else that I am very excited about and that is the Instagram contest that we are having right now. We definitely are wanting to spread the words that move me and make sure as many people find the podcast as possible. So to do that we’re having an Instagram contest and I would like for you to take a look at all the details @wordsthatmovemepodcast on Instagram. It’s in our story. It has a special little album there. I think I’m using the right words all of a sudden I am not the master of Instagram anymore. I’m learning and I’m right there with some of you as I learn. Anyways, I’m very excited about the contest in order to see all the terms and the ways that you can win and also the things that you might win. Make sure you follow us on Instagram. That’s going to be the best way.. Well it’s the only way to be a part of the contest. Um, and it’s the best way to make sure that you are playing by the rules. Although occasionally I do recommend breaking them. Okay. So in addition to the contest, I also want to clear up a few things. Cause the other day I ran into a human being, an actual human in the flesh and she was like, Oh my gosh, I’m doing the daily challenge and I absolutely love it. I was like, that’s great. What’s your handle? And she told me her name, she told me her handle and I didn’t recognize it. I was like, I don’t think I’ve seen your project out there. And then through a little bit more digging, we discovered that she had been hashtagging “daily doing” instead of hashtagging “doing daily” And honestly you guys, I think I’ve probably said it both ways from the start of the podcast until now and this is something that is definitely worth a little clarification and carving out a special place for this. I want to see your daily projects.
So I have decided to create a special hashtag, a bucket that we can put all of those beautiful things and that is #doingdailyWTMM as in words that move me. So if you are a daily doer, which is confusing cause I do say that a lot. If you’re a daily doer then you are hashtag doing daily. Yes. It feels really good to have that cleared up. Excellent. If you have no idea what I’m talking about right now, that is probably because you haven’t listened to episode one or episode two where I pose the challenge to all of my listeners to take on a daily creative act every single day. For some amount of time, preferably an amount that’s slightly longer than what you feel comfortable taking on. I promised myself I would make a video every single day for 365 days and I did it plus some. It changed my life. And I know that a project like this can change yours. So jump on over to episode one and two after listening to this episode and happy making, I’m so excited for you and for the ways that this can change your life. Hats off to all of my daily doers. Keep the hashtag doing daily. This is how I remember it by the way, hashtag doing because the doing is the important part. #doingdailyWTMM now let’s get into it.
I’m stoked about today’s episode because I got a chance to catch up with one of my favorite people, Jason Bonner. Jason and I met when I was a dancer on tour with Justin Timberlake in 2007. So this was the, um, future sex love show tour. I was 20 years old. I turned 21 while we were on the road. Um, so I’m this tiny young danceling and this man who at the time was Justin’s personal trainer became my trainer as well and a very, very dear friend. He’s one of the relationships that I made on that tour that has stood the test of time and is still um, a great friend and inspiration to me up until today. So I got to catch up with Jason and I have to be totally honest with you. We talked for over two hours and a lot of that talking is actually just cackling like words and sounds that you would need subtitles to understand. So I did edit this episode down into some really good digestible chunks of information and inspiration and I really hope that you dig it. Okay. Before we get into the words with Jason, I want to explain the being that is Jason, I want you to imagine a life scale GI Joe, like actual man sized GI Joe and then turn that up to X. Like, he probably isn’t, but it feels like Jason is eight feet tall and his like the circumference of his bicep is probably the circumference of my thigh at its widest. You will probably hear in this interview him slamming his hands on the table and the microphone responds to that a little bit. So I do apologize. This is my first phone interview ever and I’m still learning a lot about that technology. So bear with me on the learning curve. Also, did I mention I am coming to today from my hotel, actually my hotel closet in Las Vegas, Nevada, which is where I am working right now. So I apologize if the sound is different or if there’s an occasional passer-by in the hallway, a door slam, a weird pipe sound. My pipes are making weird gargly sounds. I can’t explain it, but I think we’re safe. I don’t see any water anywhere, so I think we’re safe. Anyways, all sound aside. I’m very, very excited to share this conversation with Jason Bonner. So let’s dig in.
Dana: Jason Bonner! I am so excited about this call. Really, truly, utterly. I can’t even handle it. Um. All right, so, the podcast, because it’s young and I want to tell you a little bit about the podcast and our listeners. Its primarily about creative careers and making art in entertainment. So some of my guests might be confused as to why I am speaking to personal trainer to the stars and I would tell them that is because you are much, much more than a personal trainer to the stars. So number one, please introduce yourself, all of your interests and all of the many different hats that you wear.
Jason: How are you doing Dana? My name is Jason Bonner, whether it’s training, whether it’s life coaching, whatever it is that I’m doing, I really love helping people. And through my friends in industry, the people that know me, they call me like the Jack of all trades because I really can do whatevers thrown at me. So I do everything from training to styling to image to branding for an artist, this is actually what I do. I kind of wear many different hats. I’ve done everything from A&R record to written on records before, as a writer. In it past eight months or so. I’ve uh, I started a management company. I have a two artists that I manage and a songwriter. And I wrote a film, with one of my best friends. About something that happened in my life, true story. It’s a comedy. So we’re in the process of getting that done now, so excited about it. The movie is basically like a mixture of Friday and Ferris Buller’s Day off. That’s the best way I can describe it.
Dana: I want to live at the center circle of that Venn diagram that is exquisite.
Jason: I am, I’m beyond excited about it because it was something I didn’t really think about getting into. Oh. So it just happened. Mmm. The working out on is really the easiest part of it. That’s like the easiest thing to do. Um, I work with, uh, Josh Groban, the a Joe Jonas, Frank Ocean, hit boy, Bruno Mars producer Rob Knox. This new kid. Aaron Wright, he’s amazing You hear about him soon? I worked in Luke James. Mmm. Another producer named Monsour Producer Harvey Mason Jr before? I’m actually working with Chris Stapleton right now. Amazing guy. Flat out. Amazing. Mmm. I take it very seriously because I was on my way to be a pro athlete. Before, I got hurt. So I’m very competitive when it comes to what I do when I work with somebody in that capacity. Whether it’s training, whether its, branding whether it’s you know, conditioning for shows or whatever we’re doing. I’m really serious about it. And part of it is, you know, when you’re working with artists and people you’re close to, you kind of have to read them and understand the mannerisms. So part of why it worked so well with the people that I work with is because I studied their habits, I studied everything about them. So like, like for example, um, I’ve been working with Justin Timberlake since, the year 2000 so I pretty much know like the back of my hand. Like I can walk into a room and tell him, “you need something to eat or you need to go to sleep? Mmm. Anything. Literally anything.”
It’s true. Jason is a great study of subtlety and human behavior in general and I think he gets a lot of that intel from movement specifically like posture, someone’s walk , their body language, their performance at the gym or their performance on stage. He could almost always tell if something was off, like if something wasn’t quite right and some of the time he could tell exactly what it was, whether it was not enough rest or too much rest occasionally or homesickness, relationship drama, family drama and by family drama I of course mean tour, family drama because when you eat, sleep, breathe, work and play together, that’s exactly what you become. You are family. So Jason’s eye for detail and like Olympic level people watching skills are what taught me that you don’t need to perform all the time. In fact, being a good audience member, being watchful that can help you do your job even better than all of the, all of the uh, exporting, right. Do a little importing. Just sit and watch. When I was on the road and training with Jason, his type of watchful felt a little bit like, um, like a law enforcement officer or like the way that a teacher watches over their classroom taking a test and they’re like looking to see if somebody is cheating or passing notes or something or a little bit like a referee watching a game like very, very closely. But I really think there’s more compassion to Jason’s style of watching. And actually one of my favorite things about becoming a people watcher thanks to him is that it helps me feel more compassionate towards others. And I like that. Okay. So now we’re going to talk a little bit more about my first tour and Jason’s style of quote, compassion, which is a special brand of no BS. Tough love.
Okay. So I want to really quickly go back to the year that we met, which was, um, I believe it was 2007. The future sex love show tour. And I was a dancer and I assisted the creative director and choreographer, Marty Kudelka on that tour. I was 20 years old and I was green. And I remember meeting you and you, you make quite an oppression, quite an impression on a young lady, um, because you are so certainly who you are. And I remember at that time, I’m still figuring out who I am and I, um, I had these ideas about what a personal trainer to the stars was and you certainly look like that. Like you look like that guy. But I remember being very taken aback by how generous you are in giving your attention, your time, your talent. And I was very interested in getting healthier, getting more fit. And I remember you, I remember thinking that a personal trainer was a certain thing and that I would have a whistle in my ear at 6:30 in the morning and you’d be a drill sergeant and you’d be like, banging down my door, get me to the gym. And you really weren’t that. So I would like to hear a little bit about how you encourage people into their own greatness without being a drill Sergeant and a heavy hand, even though you look tough. Mmm. And it was your voice in my head when I was like, no, get to the gym, get to the gym. But you only showed up for me when I showed up for myself. And I would love to hear more about why it is that you, why you operate that way.
Hey Listen! This is the only thing in life. Only thing in life, no matter how much money you have, no matter how much you think you have, that nobody else can do for you, right? You have to do it yourself. Like there’s, there’s no way around it you have to do this for yourself? So it’s one of those things where it’s like, listen, I could yell at you, I can scream at you, I could get mad at you, whatever did you face, whatever. It’s not going to matter if in your head you don’t want to do it. So I don’t care who you are. I can look somebody in the face and tell them you’re not serious. And there’ll be like, why is it because I know people, okay, who have that look that they want to change their lives. You don’t want to change your life? I say, so don’t ask me again or waste my time. Ask me something that you’re not serious about. So for me it’s like I don’t have the patience to deal with, with BS. So it’s just like you don’t take yourself serious. So why should I? Again, because I was a, you know, I was working on trying to be a professional basketball player. My drive for myself was very high. Right. So I learned how to channel into me, erm, at an early age, so when everybody else would be partying or people would be asleep in the dorm, I was up at five in the morning running stairs, you know, getting ready for the season. Mmm. In college, the basketball season. So I kind of took, well not even taken, I, I’m actually wired to, to be self motivated. So if I see that somebody has something in them, I feel like if I have the tools to help them get to that space, have the obligation to give you, if I genuinely care about you as a friend or as a family member, I’m going to give you this information so you can be great. Um, so saying all that to say, so like when I got called to work with Justin for the first time before I met you, I meet with them in the first thing I say to them, this is a true story. The first thing I say to him, I said listen, before we start this meeting, let me tell you who I am. I don’t care about being seen next to you on TV, film, magazines, tabloids, anything. The only thing I care about is if you take this serious. I say, because I am very competitive and if my name was attached to you, I’m going to make sure I pull whatever’s out of you. I’m going to pull it out of you to be great. I said because of what I think thats inside of you. You have the opportunity and hear me when I say this, the opportunity to be one of the best people in music history. If you take this serious, I said, you have to come to a world where you make it. You have to make a guy like me, like you. And he’s only there because he has to bring his girl that he come see you and he’s mad. That he’s there to watch you, So I say, so whenever we do in the gym, we’re at rehearsal, dance rehearsal. If it takes you a hundred times a thousand times to get a dance step, right? You want to do it a thousand times still you get it right. Thats it. Because you don’t have the luxury to mess it up and that’s it. And , I said, so when you see that guy, he’s looking at you like this <inaudible> you have to get that guy to move. And I told him, I said, you can get that guy to move. You get the world to move. You hear me when I say that? If you get that guy to move, you can get the world to move
Um, did you write that down? Literally one of my all time favorite ways to lock in an incredible performance is to lock in on one person. The one person that’s not feeling. It’s a game. Of course, I don’t know actual voodoo or like mind trickery, but after hundreds and hundreds of shows, I became able to get at least a smile and a step touch out of even the most unenthusiastic concert goer or chaperones as I like to call them. They’re the ones giving off the, Oh no, no, no, no, no. Um, I’m not here for you. I’m here for my girlfriend or my daughter or my wife or whoever. Okay. Don’t get me wrong though. There is something very, very moving about a room full of screaming fans, but if you can make the not a fan move, Oh my gosh, it feels like winning the lottery. It is incredible. Although I have never actually won the lottery, so maybe that’s not the right analogy. Also, I’ve never actually bought a ticket. I’m getting off topic. Okay, we’re back. Okay. Let’s get back into working out with Jason and the three words that changed my dance life forever.
I remember a lot of our workouts. I remember your pushup routine that I still do occasionally. I remember you bench pressing me as your weights. I remember, um, frog jumps. Is that what we call it? I don’t remember. I got so ridiculously sore that I couldn’t dance and I had to like dial it back. But this one moment it was not workout related. This one particular show during the 20/20 experience, um, I was, I think I was under the weather. I was either like physically sick or maybe homesick. I don’t, I don’t remember exactly what I was going through. But I came to you as I often did and I was like, yo, Jay help me get through this show. Like what is going to get me through the show tonight? I don’t, I don’t, I need fuel, I need juice. And you said “You only have three things that you need to worry about in this show. Three that is all, hips, lips and fingertips. And it sounds silly, but within that confined I found tremendous freedom. So by cutting my mind off from the things that were distracting me and focusing it on just three things. I was able to go so deep on hips, lips, and fingertips, and it was just so liberating. I think I delivered one of the best shows of my life that night. Um, what other wisdom might you have for people that are feeling less than.And that can help us focus into being more than.
Well, my motto is I’ve been saying that since I was a kid. If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. Because you have to be prepared for whatever’s thrown at you in this entertainment business at all times. You know, you’re gonna have random sleep. You know, you’re gonna have random food. You know, you don’t know if the hotel beds going to be comfortable, well, you don’t know. Did she just prepare for anything? If your show was two hours long, then we’re training for three hours? The main thing is to get your mindset ready for anything. This is always my answer is always do you have to program your mind to already be ahead of whats about to happen to prepare yourself for anything. If you’re the sports team and the star players coasting everybody on the team is not going to give that kind of effort. You have to give the effort to set the example.
I think that’s an important note because not only for the leader or the the front man of the group, but for everybody in the group because you’re leading somebody, whether you know it or not, someone is looking to you for the tone, for the vibe, for the energy. It might be a fellow dancer on stage or it might be somebody in the audience. I think setting a bar, setting a high bar is so important. It’s why people are drawn to you. It’s why I was drawn to you. It’s why we’re still friends and I just, I can’t thank you enough for being so excellent.
So being somebody that’s so, uh, face to face with popular culture all the time, do you have any recommendations for how to drown out the noise in terms of what people should be and how to reinforce all the lovely things that we are
The biggest thing I would tell people is to understand your inner voice. And what I mean by that is the only person that knows what’s really going on in your head is you. And if you understand the field, or the business that you want to get into. Meaning, something tangible that can work in this space and you know your work and you really understand what it is then don’t listen to anybody but yourself. Your intuition is never ever wrong. It’s something that we are born with, that we have inside of us that connects us to everything that’s happening around us. And if you really understand it and you really listen to it, you understand how much you’re in tune with the world and other people. But you have to be open to receive it. If you’re not open to receive it, then you’ll miss it. Listen to yourself. No. Then if you put a really, if you put your mind to something, you can do it with no problem. You just have to understand that it’s not going to be, nothing is a cake walk. There are very few people that are like gifted to do certain things. It just give a born to do that thing and there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s just, there were born to do that thing. They were built for that thing. Body’s constructed for that thing. Their mindset, their feet, their hands, everything about it was built or that thing. Most of the people have to work towards that thing. Even though you understand that you might have to work towards it. But some people are just gifted to do that thing. You know, it’s like by Kobe Bryant, his passing, he was built to play basketball. Everything about his body was built for that sport. It wasn’t built to play football. He was good for the sport of basketball. Michael Jordan, the same way. Certain people are just built for that sport. No. Um, and then you have an exception to the rule. Mmm. Like
There’s always an exception
Ryan Williams who’s know, six, seven, six, eight 285 pounds. He looks like a defensive lineman and he jumps like he’s 160 pounds. It doesn’t make sense. So you have those anomalies every once in a while. But again, that’s just a gift that they’re born with. But most people, again, I understand it’s something you really have to study it. If you want to, you know, learn how to be a great dancer, then you study with other great dancers. If you want to be a great artist, study with great artists, you have to be around people who are great, In order to observe, greatness, unless you’re just a freak of nature and you just born with that gift of whatever that thing is that you’re doing know. So like when my, my godson, who’s an artist, right? The only person who’s want to teach them showmanship is you like, you’re on what you’re already on. Are you already on my list of people who are going to be part of his team? Because because of what you are, he needs what you are. He needs you to teach him. That’d be a certain way on stage because he doesn’t know. Mm. Yeah. He can move. He has natural talent. He can dance, but he needs YOU..
Yeah, I am flattered and you know exactly where to find me.
It is really, really cool to see how far time, talent and connections can take someone because over the years that I’ve known you, you’ve been so many different things to so many different people. I cannot wait to meet music producer Jason. I cannot wait to watch the movie that you wrote and produced and or directed. I cannot wait for the world to see these things. I’m just so happy to put you in touch with a part of my world. Introduce them to you because you’ve really helped mold me into what I am today. Thank you so much for doing this.
You don’t have to thank me. You know i’d do anything in the world for you. I’m your family. You already know that, so thank you. I appreciate it. I’m glad I could help you.
Oh by the way, I have on the podcast, I have a a sign off line. My sign off is “keep it funky.”
Oh, I like it keep it funky.
Yeah. Okay. Keep it funky everybody. I’ll see you next week.
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 artists story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Good day. Good people. How are you out there? I hope this podcast finds you fabulous on this lovely day or night. I don’t know what it is for you right now. I do know that it is morning time for me and this is kind of an impromptu podcast. Today is headshots day. I am getting two different rounds of head shots taken in one day. In the early afternoon. I’m going for the commercial stuff, the clean, fresh, super cute. “Let me sell you things”, head shots. And then in the afternoon I’m getting my super artsy fartsy editorial. “I’m an artist with creative ideas” headshots, and those really are two very different things. Um, and I’m excited. I’m excited about both of them, but I did wake up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. So I did a little journaling and started digging up what I thought could be a really cool podcast episode, a look inside my head on headshots day. So you’ll be able to see what my head looks like on the outside as well as what’s going on in here today. So, uh, if you don’t mind, I’m going to get right into it since I am on a bit of a sscheduley.
Okay. The inner dialogue that happens on the morning of headshot day is not so dissimilar from the dialogue that happens on any big shoot day. So if you don’t have headshots on the books coming up, don’t discount this episode. There’s a lot of big lesson in here and I hope you get big value out of it. Okay, let’s start at the beginning. This morning I woke up to kisses, which is incredible. But also I did say that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. So you might be wondering how is that possible? Well, let me explain. Number one, I wanted to stay asleep. This is something that I blame actually on my very, very comfortable bed. I have the best bed ever. You might think that yours is better, but mine is better. I really, I’ve actually considered trying to increase productivity by swapping out my awesome mattress and sheets and pillows for something different, but that would never fly. I really, really love my bed. I have these bamboo hypo allergen pillows. They’re the best and all of it. It’s great. So anyways, I got out of bed eventually. Then I saw how puffy my hands were and that reminded me of the bad choice I made last night when I had so much of that soup that I knew it was a little too salty. I was like, I’m going to be puffy tomorrow. Sure enough, fingers, super puffy. My rings were like, eh, not moving. And then I saw that my morning belly was not. Its typical morning belly smallness, you know that. Don’t you wake up sometimes you look at yourself, you’re like, man, I look really good right now. I want to look like that all day long and literally like you might not even drink water, but in the next hour or so you just don’t look. I don’t know. There’s something about the morning body, so I was bummed by the puffy fingers. I was bummed by the puffy body and then I got in the shower and my husband asked if I tweezed my eyebrows. He said they look smaller. He did not say they look bad or Whoa, you really messed up there. He really said no. He just said they look smaller, but in my head I heard they look awful. You look crazy. You’re really getting head shots today. And then I went into the landscaping mode where for the next 15 minutes from pits to legs to “vathighna”, which is the place.. Some people call it the bikini area, but let’s be honest, it’s the place between your vagina and your thigh. It’s the vagthina and on my landscaping journey, all I can do is think about those perfect hairless bodied models that I see headshots of all the time. And then I came here to my computer where I started to do a little download. A thought download by the way is where I just spew out thoughts, stream of consciousness at my computer and then I work on managing those thoughts.
Okay. We’re going to get into my thoughts in a second, but first let’s take a quick moment to talk about the facts. Okay. The facts about headshots are this. Head shots are pictures of you, your top half usually, but sometimes your whole body, they land on your website or on your agent’s website. They land on casting networks, which is sort of a casting directory. In other words, online casting networks are where casting directors and clients will go to look at the talent pool to decide who they want to see audition and ultimately who they will cast for their projects. I’m going to do a full blown deep dive on casting networks another day. We’re going to talk all of them backstage, breakdown services, actors access, casting frontier, casting networks inc, we’re going to do it, but not today. Casting networks are not a happy place for me and we’re going to keep headshot day a happy place kind of day. A few other facts about your head shots. They will likely wind up a two inch thumbnail on somebody’s computer or phone. They also may get printed. It is really good practice to have printed head shots. By the way, maybe that’s my thought. That might not be a fact. Although since the digital revolution hard-copy headshots are becoming less frequently asked for when you audition, it is good practice to have them. Okay, here’s some more thoughts about headshots and I did a quick Google search, so these are other people’s thoughts, not my own. Here we go. Oh, this is a good one. If your head shots don’t work, you won’t work. A good headshot is essential to getting work. A headshot is your most valuable asset. People also say things like, go pro, spend the money. I did get a good quote. That seems true to the price range that I’ve experienced. That good headshots range from 400 to $1,200 yeah, that’s about right. Oh, here we go. These are fun. A headshot has to show uniqueness and warmth. It’s important to show variety, but don’t be confusing. Your look should be different but unified. Okay? That’s not confusing at all. Um, or these, these good old fashion rules. Don’t wear white. Don’t wear graphics. Don’t use too many props. Don’t do anything that’ll distract from your face. Okay, good. Thanks for your thoughts everybody. Okay. This morning when I did my download, here are a couple of thoughts that I couldn’t shake. I shouldn’t have had that soup last night. My body isn’t what it could be right now. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be a good hair day. Totally honest. Those are my thoughts. All right. Now my thoughts mixed with all the other thoughts that I found on the internet today landed me thinking this is the one opportunity I’ll get in the next year to show the world who I am and get me all the jobs. Now that thought landed me feeling pretty stressed out and feeling stressed makes me overeat, over drink, It makes me really try to muscle certain things into place and make last minute changes that are kind of frantic. For example, tweezing my eyebrows at 11 o’clock last night. I don’t relax, I don’t have fun, and it’s all over my face. Those actions land me at a result of not so stellar headshots.
So with a little thought management, a little, a little grooming, this is where my thoughts have landed. Now today I get to play, dress up and make things that have never existed before. This very, very moment with my friends. Okay? Now I know I’m lucky in that regard. My dear friend Gia will be doing my makeup today. My good friend, Bobby’s going to shoot my commercial looks and then my friend Taylor is going to be doing my abstract, artsy, fartsy fun stuff. These are people that I dig. These are people that I respect and I get to hang out with them for hours on end today and I get to dress up. Boom. This makes me feel excited. And when I’m excited, tasks like doing my hair, doing my makeup, eating well, they all come with a smile. I don’t rush other people or myself. In general, things flow and that flow state happy action lands me at a result of having a great day playing dress up with my friends and having photos that prove it. Okay. Now you may be thinking, all right, positive Patty, you just, you can’t like actually just change your mind from being stressed out about this very important thing to being really, really excited and fun. Well, I would argue that it’s actually impossible to hold the thought. I am so excited to play, dress up and make stuff with my friends at the same time as you hold the thought curse my fair skin and dark Mediterranean hair. I don’t think you can think those things at the same time. I really think you have to choose one, so I’m going to choose to stop worrying about silly physical things and focus on the thoughts that I actually want to hold. Okay. Here are a few more that I’m going to hold onto today. That soup last night was other worldly that was so good and I’m so glad I experienced it. Next time I get head shots done though, that probably won’t be my move. Oh. And also I have never, ever not once been casting for a project where everyone in the room thought, man, that girl would be perfect, but her fingers are just a little too puffy. Simply never happened to me before. Also. How about this? I woke up to kisses today. It is gonna be a fabulous day. I’m excited to make stuff with my friends. I’m excited to play, dress up and I’m excited to tell you how it went. So don’t leave. Um, I’m going to leave. I’m going to go have a whole day, but you don’t, you’re going to have about three seconds of a musical interlude and I’ll be right back to tell you how it went today.
Hey guys, I’m back. It’s like time travel I really like this one day, two recording sessions thing. That was very, very fun. Whoa, what a fun day. It was really exciting. I genuinely felt excited almost all day. Um, and wow, being excited is very energizing. I was excited up until 7:00 PM when I ate my first legitimate meal of the day, which was a beyond burger and it was delicious and then I continued to be excited even while I was washing the temporary pink hair dye out of my hair at 10:00 PM and I am going to sleep like a baby. All right. These are some of the things that came up to me that I thought were worth mentioning today.
First off, your tribe is your vibe. The people that you have around you on big days like this make all the difference and I was so lucky to have some of my favorite people around today. Firstly, my makeup artist, Gia Harris, longtime friend, who I’ll talk a little bit more about later, did an awesome job and on the subject of makeup, my mom calls putting makeup on gilding the Lily, but when you’re getting professional photos taken, having great makeup is part of this complete breakfast. You really actually need it and you need it to be great. You need it to be natural. You needed to be well maintained throughout the day and yeah, you might as well enjoy the process. I always enjoy the process with Gia. At one point I even remember, maybe it’s about as high stress as it got was when we were trying to find the perfect red lipstick for my sophisticated, sexy look in the second half of the commercial headshot shoot. Gia is a woman that understands red lipstick intimately. In fact, she introduced me to my favorite red, which is actually Sephora number one. Just for the record, we did not use Sephora number one for this shoot. However, we explored a little bit and we found something incredible and I don’t know what it was, so I can’t tell you. Gia and only Gia knows. Alright, Gia knows reds and she knows my face. If you’re shooting with a makeup artist that you’ve never used before, I strongly recommend paying them for a test day so that you’re sure you can land on looks that you love before the big day. For the record, I feel the same way about hairstylists crucial. Now, today I did not have a hairstylist. I was manning my own mop and I think I did a pretty good job for the record. See, I have kind of unusual hair, but I know how to work it. It’s one of those things that if I can’t get the stylist that I know I love, I’m not going to take a risk on somebody that I don’t know. I’m going to do what I do and I’m going to do it well. Today was no exception. I’m patting myself on the back. I did pretty good, especially in the first half of the day. The second half of the day took a turn. It got a little playful. See, Taylor James has been wanting to shoot me with pink hair for a very long time. He’s been trying to convince me to go pink ever since I went blonde. So I gave in because Taylor puts the Tay in taste. He’s really so great. So I did a little research and I talked to a couple of real live humans instead of just trusting the internet. This is my hair after all, and I decided on Kryolan color spray in D 30 it’s this lovely, powdery pink. I almost went for the more neon pink, kind of like what you might’ve seen in the yummy video. Shout out. Yummy, and I heard horror stories about how that stuff stained those girls hair, especially with light hair, a dark temporary hair dye can actually do some real permanent type of damage. So I went with D30 this powder pink and I just crossed up my fingers. Lucky for me, it not only washed out, but it looked fabulous. A word of wisdom. I would advise that you settle on the style first and add the color later. It was really difficult to style my hair after that spray was in there. It’s like kind of chalky and powdery and tough. It was impossible to brush through and I’m not crazy about the shape of my hair after the color went in, but Holy smokes color so great. Really happy about that. I think actually we’re going to go round two on pink hair shoot. LOVE. Who knows? Maybe I’ll even commit full time some other day.
Okay, so that covers face. That covers hair. Now, next and maybe most important, let’s talk wardrobe. I am a person who loves clothes. I love many different styles. I love many different periods of fashion. I love texture, I love color, I love crazy, but headshot wardrobe is not the same as daily wardrobe and editorial wardrobe is certainly different than daily wardrobe. So how do you settle on your look? Well, as I’m sure you can imagine, there really is no one rule of what to wear. Brunette shouldn’t always wear red. Blondes shouldn’t always wear blue. This is just something you’re going to have to find for yourself. My best recommendation here would be try everything, take a lot of photos and start keeping little photo albums of your little favorite things, the things that work for you. Before I even set my date to shoot and before I locked in my photographers, I sent my agents and a small group of friends and family like nine or 10 different looks and I asked for input and feedback. What do you guys think I should wear for my head shots? I’m always surprised by the way, what I hear back when I send out little calls to action like that because it’s almost never what I would have chosen. Over the course of this week. I’ll share a few of those sample shots that I sent to my agent so that you can see what I thought would work and what actually wound up working. Actually throughout the course of this week, I’ll do a lot of behind the scenes of today. I’ve got a lot of great captures. Stay tuned on the gram @WordsthatMoveMePodcast, get ready. So on this round of preliminary wardrobe sausage. I heard back from my agent first and she recommended a few looks that I didn’t really love, but once I tried them on in front of a backdrop on camera, I was smitten. So I shot in two looks that really weren’t my favorite, but on camera they look great. As far as the golden rule here, I would say do your homework. Not only did I send my agents a boatload of options, I also asked them to send me the headshots of their clients that never get a no. These are headshots that when submitted the casting director says yes, we want to see that person. From those I learned solid backgrounds are best, vivid colors are a must, skin must look natural and great. And red seemed to be an overwhelming theme. So based on the looks that I submitted and based on what my agency sent me back, I settled on a couple different wardrobe options and then chose backdrop colors and textures that I thought complimented them the best. And that’s the game.
Okay. The day went fast and that is to be expected. But I never felt actually rushed. I was, it felt more like I was just in a fast car that was going fast, but I didn’t feel like I was having to run or pull or drive. It was just a quick moving day. But I took time to look at my friends and smile and love them and I took time to look at the images. Oh yes. That was advanced to take a moment, pause, say, okay, let’s look at what we’ve got so far before you say, all right, moving on. Next. Look, every photographer is different when it comes to showing the model or the director the captures as they shoot. Sometimes it can make the model get a little bit too in their head. So even though the goal is to establish a strong trust and healthy working relationship, it can wind up having the inverse effect. But I love seeing as I shoot it helps me correct. I’m a dancer, love corrections. Um, it helps me correct and it helps me feel like we can move on if at a certain point it’s time to move on, you know, as far as the clock is concerned. So that’s one of the reasons I really like shooting with my friends is that that conversation can be really loose and open. Hey, can I take a look at that? Hey, do you mind if I see that, Hey, can I take a look at that? I feel like we might have it. Can we move on? Of course. I feel more comfortable having that conversation with my friends, but, but I really encourage anybody who’s paying for headshots to take a look at some of what they got before you change outfits to the next look and certainly before you leave for the day.
At one point I actually noticed as I looked at the monitor, a little, um, body insecurity cropping up where I was like, ah man, my torso is so short and my head is gigantic. Wait is my head really that big. Uh, that might actually be the lens. Hey Bobby, what are you shooting on right now? Sure enough, it was kind of a wide lens. We’re in a small space so I understand that choice. But I asked Bobby to use a different lens cause I noticed like the slightest kind of warping in my body. Um, and because Bobby is awesome, he was like, yes, absolutely right away, but I wouldn’t have known to ask that necessarily if I hadn’t gotten so comfortable with seeing myself on camera at number one. And number two, um, getting used to what certain lenses do to the body. So that was cool. Um, also cool. I came across my first professional headshots ever. So these must have been taken in 2005, like early 2005. Um, yes I did laugh at them and yes I did ask what were you thinking? And I sit in kind of a mean way at the moment, but after a little bit more digging on the, what were you thinking? Question. I really believe that I was thinking do it right. Just be the right thing. Just do this right. And I’m actually very proud of that. My efforts to do the right thing or to at least not be wrong, were not for nothing. My pursuit of right got me very far. It got me here. Here is well connected, supported, inspired. Here’s a place where I have the perspective to think of headshots as an opportunity to play and make versus the do or die moment where my livelihood is on the line. So thanks past self for really trying to do it right and trying to be right. However, I’ve got to say the girl in those photos does not look like she’s having fun. So while the thought I’m going to do it right, I’m going to be right, might’ve served me well in the career in the long run today instead of thinking do it right, be right, I was thinking do it bright and be yourself. Just be yourself. It was also nice to remember that head shots are just pixels on a screen or ink on a piece of paper. That brought me comfort to knowing that I am much more than pixels. I am much more than ink and when I believe that the camera seems to capture that. I was also very comforted by the thought that these don’t have to be the best headshots ever taken ever by man or woman or space alien. These are just the head shots that I am taking today with this color hair in this body in this moment and that felt really, really good. So maybe someday I’ll look back and laugh at these two and that’s okay. But until that moment I’ll be very proud and I’ll celebrate that.
This was an awesome day where I got to dress up and make stuff with my friends for I might add less than a thousand dollars. I shot five looks in three locations in six hours and I could absolutely not have done that without a killer team. Top of that list of course is the man that woke me up with kisses. Next step is the one and only Gia Harris who did my makeup on this series of head shots and maybe every single other in my life at least in the last 10 years. Right. Gia man, she is my dear friend. She is a Saint. She was the first to arrive and she was the last to go home and she did a phenomenal job. Then of course there is mr Bobby Dancones, the sweet and Swift photographer. I have almost all of my files from him already. Holy smokes. Thank you Bobby. And then of course Mr. Taylor James. He has a great eye and incredible imagination and more prom dresses than any woman that I know. He is a master behind and in front of the camera. And I would also say he is a monster behind the wheel of a Prius. Thanks Taylor James!
Well, there you have it guys. A look inside my head on headshot day, I felt beautiful. I felt powerful. I felt silly. I felt sexy. I was excited literally all day long. And I hope that you feel all of those things today and one sure fire way of feeling that is to think you get to go play, dress up and make stuff with your friends almost anytime. Literally. So go get out there, do it. And while you’re at it, keep it funky. Hey, sneak attack with the tagline. Thank you everybody for listening. I’ll talk to you next week. I literally just waved at my microphone. Great. Okay. Bye.
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 artists story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Hello and welcome back everybody. This is episode seven. Holy smokes. So much fun. Really digging the podcast, really digging, seeing what you guys are up to out there with your daily doing. Um, daily creativity is the name of the game. This episode, however, is going to focus on something that I get a lot of comments and questions about and that is travel. So moving but moving around the world, I get a lot of questions and comments from people asking for tips and tricks and how often I travel. Um, I would ballpark and say I travel, you know, probably get 20 to 40 ins and outs of airports every year, but that depends on my gigs. That depends on, um, if I’m on tour or working a really strong convention season or if I’m working on a film or something longterm, I’m probably not traveling quite as much, but ballpark 20 to 40 ins and outs of airports, that is a lot. This podcast in particular is going to focus on a convention weekend type of travel. That’s a carry on. That’s a couple of days. That is intense. Yes, I will be talking about things that I love for sure, but I’m mostly going to talk about the way that I operate and why, but for those of you interested in hearing more about specific items that I talk about in this podcast, go to my show notes for this episode thedanawilson.com/podcasts and there you will find links to my Words that Move Me Amazon shopping listwhere you’ll find all of my favorite things and little comments about why I love them. Okay, so let’s get into it. I like to travel light, but I really like to have all the things, so I wind up traveling kind of heavy. When I’m traveling for a convention weekend, I try to go carry on only, so that means I bring one roll aboard and one backpack. My roll aboard, by the way, is spray painted with my initials, REAL BIG because it’s one of those roller boards that looks like everybody else’s. So now mine has a gigantic D W on the front and on the back, which makes for very easy retrieval if it has to get checked. And I think it’s super chic and funky, which pretty much explains my fashion and my function. Now on a travel day, I try to wear my biggest items that makes more room in the bag and more warmth on the plane. I’m one of those types that gets cold on airplanes. If you see me at an airport, you will probably see me wearing fatigues, like my big army cargo pants. Wearing those through TSA practically guarantees a pat down, which I’m so not mad at. It’s kind of like a free shiatsu massage and no, I don’t ever get a private screening, but I’ve essentially another carry on worth of stuff in my pockets. What’s in my pockets? You might ask the essentials, you know, wallet, phone, AirPods, um, Burt’s Bees pomegranate chapstick. I love a pen or a pencil, my fire incident report all weather notebook and floss. I cannot think or speak or dance. If I have something in my teeth. It’s very important, always carry floss. And almost always pretty much always hand lotion because I’m really grumpy when I have dry skin and I prefer to not be grumpy. My favorite hand lotion by the way, does come in a travel size and it is called skin food byWeleda, which I think I’m saying that correctly. Not sure. Anyways, that’s what’s on me. Here’s what’s in my bag.
In my suitcase for a convention weekend, I will need to have two dressy outfits. For me, it’s really the little things that make an outfit dressy and when traveling that is super convenient. For example, earrings, rings, scarves, lipstick, a headband, I recently got into headbands ever since I cut my hair. And as I say that out loud, I’m realizing those are almost exclusively lady type hacks. I would love to hear what my gentleman do for quick outfit upgrades. That doesn’t require a garment bag. Seriously though, I’m curious. Leave me a message on Instagram or the website because I would love to know. Okay, so that does it for the dressy outfits. Let’s talk sweaty dance times. Typically three classes a day for two days. I go through three shirts a day, so that’s six shirts and then just pants, you know, standard pants. I can move in, which unfortunately are usually kind of big, so you’d be surprised. The carry on gets full fast. Okay. Then I’m going to need a dance shoe and a dressy shoe. Dressy shoes for me are anything from a loafer to a combat boot. On a weekend I’ll probably wear my combat boots on a travel day and maybe I’ll pack a dressy flat. I’m typically not found wearing heels on convention weekends. It’s not because I don’t love them, it’s because they take up more room in a suitcase and because I don’t really love ‘em. I mean they’re okay. They really, they’re good looking. But I’m not really about being good looking on convention weekends. I’m about being high functioning. Okay. So let’s keep it pushing the socks get stuffed into the shoes and the shoes get stuffed into little plastic shower caps that they sometimes give you, um, for free at hotels. This is a hack by the way that I got.
Thanks to my mom. Shout out mom. Mom, you’re going to get a shout out on every episode. By the way, my mom was a flight attendant for many, many years. She started training with United airlines three days after she turned 20, which was in 1972 and then she retired in 2015 so math, that’s several trips she knows what she’s doing and she introduced me this little shower cap, shoe bag hack. Now I do want to say I try to not use all the plastics out there, but when I do, I re use them, as shoe bags. Almost always. Sometimes I use those weird grocery bags as shoe bags too. Anyways, the socks go in the shoes, the shoes go in the shower caps. Sports bras get tucked in between items and undies go in their very own mesh bagbecause God forbid I am living a movie and my zipper breaks open and my intimates go flying all over the airport. It could happen but it won’t because mesh bags.
All right, final note on what’s in the roll aboard. I just have to say, cause I know there’s a lot of conversation about this out there. Always be rolling. If you listened to episode two I mentioned always be rolling in terms of recording, like capturing with a camera. Always be rolling, but this applies here too. A fold is a waste of space, trust me, always be rolling. Okay. That’s what’s in my roll aboard. Let’s move on to the backpack. You can probably hear in my voice, I have feelings about backpacks. I could talk about backpacks for a very long time. I could probably start a spinoff podcast where I just talk about backpacks. I’m trying really hard to keep this not a backpack review. This is a travel podcast. Please. Dana, please don’t spend the whole episode talking about your backpack. I really could. We’re just going to talk about what’s in it. What is in my backpack is all of the stuff that I cannot live without, my computer, my favorite cameras, which are at the moment, a DJI pocket Osmo, which is essentially a steady cam that fits in your pocket, especially if you’re wearing fatigues, but don’t get me started on the lack of pocket in lady pants. It’s inexcusable and really frustrating. Why can’t we just have pockets that run the normal depth of a normal pocket or normal human hip? It’s ridiculous. Okay. Moving on my Canon VIXIA mini, which I also mentioned in episode two and my Insta 360 if you only have time to take one photo, it should be a 360 degree photo because it captures everything. It’s really the best. Okay, so I’ve got all my favorite cameras. Of course. Then I have to have all of their charging elements and batteries, card readers, adapters, et cetera. By the way. I have a lot of that now since I upgraded my computer, which was like 104 years old, so now I have the new MacBook pro and now I need a USBC adaptor for literally everything. Also frustrated. Wow. I’m getting really heated about my everyday carry. Oh! speaking of heated, also in my backpack. Baby Tabasco sauce, baby meaning travel sized, not baby meaning hot sauce for infants. Right now. My husband and I are very into hot sauce. Shout out Sean Evans on hot ones. Man, you are good. That show is so good. YouTube series. Check it out. Favorite episode, probably Paul Ruddwith runner up Charlize Theron. Hope I’m saying that right. With second runner up. Probably Shaq. Maybe tied for, tied for second runner up withGordon Ramsey. He was a hot mess. No pun intended. Okay.
Other stuff that I have in my backpack staying focused here. KT tape. Kinesiotherapy tape. Wow. I really cannot say enough about KT tape. There are days when it is the difference between dancing in pain, and dancing completely pain free. I’m really, really a big fan of KT tape. You do need to be sure that you’re taping correctly though. I’m going to link to my favorite knee taping method for knee stabilization. Uh, okay. So on the subject of pre-hab rehab and in general pain management, I travel with a 14 inch Tigertailwhich is a rolling massage stick. Um, I’m going to link to that in the Amazon cause it’s kind of hard to explain, as well as a travel sized foam roller. The one that I use is by a company called go fit and it looks like they don’t make the one that I have anymore. Mine is red and it’s hollow, which means I can actually put the tiger tail and anything else inside of it makes it much more travel. Um, and it’s, it’s small. It’s uh, 12 inches I think. So that one fits in my backpack. The other travel sized ones from go fit that I’m seeing online right now are not hollow. They have some sort of HDPE which is high density polyethylene, some kind of plastic on the inside so you can’t stuff them, which makes them w like basically useless as far as I’m concerned. Let’s see what else, what else? Um, Kay moving right ahead. What else? What else? Oh, my favorite role on fragrance because these weekends can really bring the funk out of you in more ways than one. My favorite role on fragrance is actually the only one that I’ve found that doesn’t leak when I travel. And that is Aesop’s Marrakech intense. Not cheap but lasts for ever and doesn’t leak. So come on. Win-win also smells fantastic.
What else? We have, oh, a personal reading light because I have tried to get more in the habit of reading pages, not pixels on airplanes. And I don’t like to interrupt my, um, airplane neighbors with my bright, bright light. So I keep a personal reading light. Also, a lot of colored pens, uh, rarely use them, but I’ve got them. Also really old tea. I guess I’m a hoarder whenever I see interesting tea, I just grab it and put it in my backpack. I’ve got like four or five different tea bags in there, but they’re very thin and they’re individually wrapped and you never know. You can find hot water just about anywhere and then all of a sudden you’ve got a cup of tea. Okay. Also, Oh, in the same pocket that I keep my tea, I keep my glasses. They’re in their very own hard case because you know, accidents happen.
Speaking of accidents happen. I also carry ibuprofen all the time. And um, for the emotional inflammation, a bar of dark chocolate almost always have dark chocolate on me. 85% or higher preferred. Um, I like things that tastes like asphalt it turns out. Trader Joe’s has a 100% dark chocolate bar called Montezuma’s absolute black. Um, it is exquisite. Really, really love it. A warning though, it is not for the faint of taste buds. Pretty heavy duty, that guy. So that pretty much covers the packing element. Now we’re at the airport. Let’s talk TSA for a second. Woahhoo. Favorite subject. Really quickly. I want to do a compare and contrast of TSA precheck versus clear versus priority boarding versus global entry. I’m excited about this.
They don’t have clear at every airport, but when I lived in the Bay area, SFO and SJC San Jose both had it and Denver has it as well. That’s where I’m from. I’m in and out of there a lot. So I was a clear member for a couple of years. With clear and I don’t remember how much my membership was. Darn it. Darn it. Maybe a hundred bucks. ** (Edit note its $179 for 12 months) You go straight to the front of all lines. You just become the first person. You walk right up to the agent, you give him your phone and your ID and you’re through. Oh, but you do have to give them also your fingerprint and I don’t know what they’re doing with that information. Full disclosure. So that’s clear.
TSA precheck. You would think that I actually liked the feeling of watching all my friends fly by in the TSA line while I wait for a long time in general boarding. I have never had TSA precheck and that shocks everyone because I travel so often. Here’s the thing, I tried to get it once I missed my appointment, complete fumble and I just never recovered. So TSA precheck, which is $85 for five years, means that you don’t have to take your shoes off. You don’t have to take out your liquids bag or your computer. Um, and you get to take the shorter line. Although I have noticed at least of late, there are so many people that are TSA precheck. I’ve found once or twice that the general boarding line is shorter, but most often they’re about the same. It’s just the TSA line moves away faster cause you don’t have to take your shoes off. You don’t have to take the stuff out of the bag, you don’t have to take your computer out. So on and so forth. So that’s TSA precheck.
All right, moving on to global entry. I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t know a lot about global entry, but I just signed up while I was preparing for this episode. Global entry means $100 for five years. It comes with TSA precheck and you get expedited entry at customs in foreign countries, which is definitely part of my plan in the next five years. Also, my capital one venture card covered this fee for me, so yahoo, free global upgrade. Super, super cool. I find this to be way better than simply paying to upgrade through your airline. In other words, if I buy a general faire when I check in, some airlines will let me upgrade for $70 or something like that and that means I get more leg room priority boarding and occasionally at TSA you’ll get your own premium boarding lane occasionally. So first that’s expensive. Second, it’s not consistent. I really think this global entry thing is the jam. I’ll let you know. Stay tuned.
All right, so now I’m up to the TSA podium. I have to say my TSA choreography is very refined. My shoes, the bins, the water bottles empty. I left all my knives at home. I am very well rehearsed. The hardest thing for me about the whole TSA system is being patient with people who aren’t as well rehearsed as I am or with the occasional grumpy TSA agent. And by occasional I mean frequent, but yo, I get it. We all have our days. My husband actually gave me the best tool for coping with my, um, we’ll call them mood swings as I go through TSA. It is truly the funnest game ever. So here’s the game. My toes inside my shoes will either Yahoo like cheer or boo people based on their etiquette going through TSA.
Sometimes I do this with hairstyles as well. I’ll just like my, my little toes will give like jumping in and out of their seats like yahoo. Um, lots of vertical hops, hands in the air. My, my toes by the way, have hands now or they’ll give like big thumbs down to people with poor etiquette or people with crazy hair. So now you know what me and my feet are going through while I’m going through TSA and for all of you infrequent flyers out there that my toes might be booing at, please check out and I avoided doing this, but I’m glad that I did. Please check out tsa.gov/travel/traveled-tips/travel-checklist. Whoa, a lot of really good pointers about traveling and exactly what you’ll get stopped for and what will slow you down going through TSA. Okay, I know that was a lot. It’ll be in the show notes. Check it out. Also, do not forget to remove your theragun from the backpack. Did I tell you that I have a third gun in my backpack? I think I left that out. I travel with a theragun now. It was an awesome Christmas present. Shout out SIS. So I keep that their gun on me, not because I’m going to use on the airplane, but because the battery doesn’t come out and I don’t want that to be in my checked bag if I do actually have to check my roller board. So don’t forget to remove your theragun when you’re going through TSA. It is an electronic device larger than your cell phone and it also happens to have gun in the title. So TSA, a no-likey
Once we are past TSA, your travel experience all really depends on the airport and the terminal that you’re at. I want to quickly shout out lax terminal one for now having an urth cafe that’s urth with a U. “U R T H” cafe at terminal one. best. coffee. EVER. It is really the only argument for flying Southwest out of lax instead of Burbank. Also shout out Burbank airport. You’re the best. I don’t want to get too graphic here with this next bit, but sometimes travel can really mess up my digestion and by that I mean put my digestion on hold and I know I’m not alone. I’ve commiserated over this with so many people. Um, I have found that fasting on a travel day or at very least not eating airport food has really, really helped the way that I feel and the way that I flow on travel days. Okay. Speaking of flow, let’s get into my weekend survival flow.
My biggest rule on these convention weekends is that I drink a ton of water. I travel with a 25 ounce fluorescent orange vacuum, insulated swell water bottle. Number one, it’s fluorescent so that I don’t lose it. This is my seventh reusable water bottle and , again, really trying to do my part to save the good old planet. I love my reusable water bottle. I love it so much because it’s bright, reusable and I don’t lose it. Number two, because on weekends I prefer to drink warm water for my voice and I don’t know something about it just feels better than cold water. Um, I do try to drink like four of those per day, if not more. So keeping the body hydrated, very, very important. I also hydrate my face. I travel with face masks. They are one of the like simplest and lightest traveled treasures that I could imagine. If you really want to take your spa game to the next level, keep your face masks in the little mini fridge or put them on ice. Oh, so good. I’m going to link to my favorite face mask, um, on the Amazon shopping list. It’s by KORRES and it’s like Greek yogurt face mask or something. First of all, I don’t think you’re allowed to eat this face mask, but I bet you could if you had to. You just might get sick and it would mess up your travel day fast. So forget about that.
Also, hugely essential to my weekend survival. I’ve started traveling with anelectric heating blanket, a very small one. It’s like maybe a little bit longer than a foot, maybe it’s a foot and a half. Um, and I use it to stay warm in between classes. I don’t teach straight through during the day.
Uh, and the warm up, cold down, warm up, cold down can really take a toll on the body after a while. So I love using this heating pad to stay warm in between classes and at the judges’ table for those long judging shifts. Good for the hips, good for the low back. Good for the neck. Oh, so good. Okay. I did mention the theragun a second ago. This one’s self-explanatory and such a game changer. Love it. Um, let’s see what else. Ah, here’s another one. I am not afraid to ask front desk staff for a room on a floor with the ice machine and a room with a bath tub. If they need some coaxing. My sports medicine doctor has given me permission to use him as scapegoat. And I tell the front desk, I’ve got patellar tendonitis, which is true and I have to ice frequently and take Epsom baths. Ah, that reminds me. I travel with reusable silicone food storage bags.One of them comes in the suitcase full of Epsom salt so I get a couple couple of good bats out of it and one of them comes empty. And I use that to fill up with ice because if you know hotel rooms and ice machines, you know that those little baggies they give you for the ice there are certainly not meant for icing body parts. Leakage. I’m going to link to my favorite reusable silicone food storage bags on the words that move me Amazon shopping lists because they don’t leak and they are great and colorful and also save the planet. Okay, so I ice, I Epsom, I thrive. On the subject of thriving. I have gotten in the habit of no booze on Saturday nights. Now, after a long day of classes and a long night of judging competition, I’m not gonna lie a glass of wine sounds pretty good, but I’ve noticed that it makes Sundays way more difficult. So instead of having that glass of wine, I have a face mask or a bath and wow, that is discipline, right?
Okay. There you have it. My convention, weekend travel hacks, short and sweet. I hope that these hacks are helpful for you. Whether you travel for conventions or not, please be sure to check out the words that moved me shopping list on Amazon and of course, leave a comment and review. Share it with your friends. If this podcast is helpful, let’s make it easier for other people to find and let’s keep it funky. UH. It’s getting more natural now. The more I say it, have a great day everybody. I will talk to you next week. Bye.
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 artists story than sit tight but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hi. Hi, and thank you for joining me today on episode six. I am so glad that you are here and I am stoked to talk to you. The subject today is whew, it’s rather serious and um pretty intense but also very valuable and I’m excited to get into it. But first I want to check in with you and wish you a happy February. February, February, February. Right? So for the next two weeks I will be working on not saying happy new year to everybody that I see. Great. For those of you that started listening with me back on January 1st episode one have you taken on the daily project? It’s really, really nice to see and connect with my daily doers out there. If you are working on daily making, then I would love to see it and support you. So be sure to tag me on Instagram at words that move me podcast. Actually, to quickly illustrate the power of seeing what all of you guys are making on Instagram. I do want to tell you a quick story. Um, I was editing a podcast a couple of nights ago in bed, which I try not to do just because it’s bad on the lower back, but my husband was asleep, all the lights were off. I’m just headphones on, kind of chipping away and I sensed something fall to my left, like off of my bedside table maybe. Or I have a hanging plant to the left of the bed. And I thought maybe a leaf had fallen off of that. I dunno, I sort of heard and sort of felt something fall. And then a few moments later I had kind of a tickle on my neck. So I, you know, reached up to my neck and I grabbed something that was the same size and weight as an almond, but it was softer and had more legs.
So I kind of threw it down on the bed and then I scrambled and hit the light switch to my right and I looked down and it was some moth type creature with straight, you know, wings and legs. And it was moving pretty slow because I grabbed it. Um, so I reached for my phone cause I wanted to take a little boomerang of it, uh, to show my husband. And when I pulled my phone out and open Instagram to take this boomerang, I saw that I had notifications in words that move me. So I opened it up and I started scrolling through some of the daily doing posts and I left this bug on my bed half alive while I was scrolling through your posts. So all of that to say Instagram is a very powerful and very distracting tool, but also I really do care about the projects that you guys have going on out there. It’s really fun to watch. All right.
This podcast is going to be probably the second best gift you ever receive. The first best gift of course, is the gift of fear. I mean your intuition. But I also mean the book, The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. Go ahead and consider it required reading. If you have read it already, I would love to hear your comments. Um, a great way to keep in touch with me is in the comments for this episode at words that move me podcast on Instagram or in the comments on my website, theDanawilson.com/podcastunder episode six last week I talked about what I call creative fears. Those are non life threatening things. I also touched on judgment and failure and some of the unwanted feelings that come along with those fears. For example, we might be afraid of auditions because we avoid feeling rejected or we might be afraid of injury because we don’t want to feel disposable or replaceable or anything other than indestructible. We’re often afraid to put ourselves and our work out there because we dislike ridicule and embarrassment or we’re often afraid of not being the best. We want to feel like winners, not losers. By the way, we are all winners here. I just want to say that for the record. So that was the last week. Episode five, if you haven’t gotten a chance to listen, really encourage you. Jump on over to that episode, maybe after this one to give that a listen. But this week we’re talking about real fear and the real threats that cause fear. I’m also going to give names to the cues that warn us about danger. By the end of this episode, you’ll have the words to explain why you feel apprehensive in certain situations and hopefully the awareness to navigate yourself out of them. So without any further ado, let’s dig in.
To avoid offending my neuroscientist friends out there. Yes, I do have neuroscientist friends. I’m not going to go into the complicated chemistry of our freeze, fight or flight response. Instead, I’m going to spend as long as it takes to convince you that you need to read the gift of fear by Gavin de Becker. My husband bought it for me, um, and a few of the other dancers I believe before I went on my second world tour. The lessons in this book are invaluable and applicable to anyone regardless of your sex or circumstance, but particularly pertinent to young ladies living in big cities or going on big tours with big stars. I say that because when you’re in places that you don’t know and surrounded by people that you don’t know and have access to celebrities, you become a target to all sorts of nonsense. The book starts with a gripping and really terrifying story of a 27 year old woman who was raped and almost murdered by a stranger in her own apartment. I’ve only ever heard of or read about or seen traumas like this in movies and TV shows, and occasionally the victim sometimes prefaces a retelling of that incident with it came out of nowhere or he seemed like a really nice guy or he didn’t look threatening or he didn’t seem harmful, but the author Gavin de Becker’s conversation with this woman reveals and explains how nothing really comes out of nowhere. There are teeny tiny red flags and warning signs. Indications or very subtle signals. Gavin de Becker calls them survival signals that tell us that something’s not quite right and I want to tell you about those survival signals. These are explanations for why we feel apprehensive in certain settings or about certain people. These are the actual words for that. “I don’t know. I just got a bad feeling” moment.
The first one is pretty self explanatory. Gavin calls it discounting the word no. That’s basically when a person doesn’t take no for an answer. People who don’t take no for an answer do not have your best interest in mind and they shouldn’t be trusted. Simple as that. The next survival signal that Gavin mentions is forced teaming. Gavin explains forced teaming as when a stranger uses the idea of we to establish trust or before there is any, for example, some stranger out in the world saying to you, “we really pick the right night to go out” or “man, we gotta get you back inside” Something to that effect sort of makes your skin crawl and he didn’t really know why. Well why is because there is no we there. That is not your friend. That is not your teammate and there is no we. Another one of Gavin’s survival signals is charm and niceness. He’s very deliberate and pointing out that charm is an ability, not a characteristic. One of my favorite quotes from Gavin is “Charm and niceness are not the same as being good. Niceness is a decision, a strategy of social interactions. It is not a character trait.” I think this is so true and so important and at the risk of sounding like really, really pessimistic. I like to remind all of my dancers and creatives out there working on big projects with high-profile artists. There are a lot of reasons for people to be nice to you and not all of them are because that person is good.
The next survival signal that Gavin de Becker offers in his book is too many details. Gavin writes that when people are telling the truth, they don’t feel doubted, so they don’t feel the need for additional support from additional details, but when they lie, even if what they say sounds like it’s true or credible, it doesn’t sound credible and true to them. So they keep talking. Another one of Gavin’s survival signals is typecasting. In the industry, uou might’ve experienced typecasting as a preliminary round of cuts at an audition. It generally happens before there’s any dancing. It happens when the client knows what “type” they are looking for and to save time they excuse all of the people who aren’t. That type typecasting can be awful because it’s very superficial. It’s quite literally based on what you look like. We like to believe that our talent matters at least as much as our looks, but I actually quite like typecasting. It saves time and it saves my energy. If I’m not it, thanks for letting me know before I sweat, before I bleed for the job and before I get a parking ticket. The gift of fear, however, explains typecasting as when somebody labels you in a critical way, hoping that you’ll behave in a way that proves them wrong. For example, “Oh, you too good for me. You’re not going to talk to me.” Or “Where are your manners? You’re so rude” somebody with bad intentions would say these things to try to get a response to try to get you to act in a favorable way towards them. A typecast is really just trying to get engagement from you and because most of us care about what people think of us and we want to be liked, this usually works.
Another one of these survival signals is called loan sharking. It’s when somebody loans you something like money or time or an object or a favor, a service, but plans on collecting much, much more in return. For example, something as simple as a stranger asking if they can help you get your luggage to your room but they expect you to let them in and they happen to then also learn what room you’re staying and or somebody who offers to give you a ride to where you plan to eat that night. Expecting that you might invite them to stay for the meal. Even if it’s under the guise of being a gift or a friendly exchange. The intent can be to put you in their debt and that is not cool. Another survival signal is the unsolicited promise. Gavin explains the unsolicited promise as “nearly always indicative of a questionable motive.” These promises do nothing more than tell us that somebody really just trying to convince us of something, not that there’s a guarantee in their action and certainly not that their intentions are good or in your best interest. Furthermore, the only time somebody makes an unsolicited promise is when they sense that you aren’t convinced. I started really, really thinking about this one the last time I made an unsolicited promise, or at least the last time I can remember was to my husband. I really, really wanted him to come see the book of Mormon with me. He was clearly not into it. He doesn’t like musicals in general and he didn’t see why this one would be any different. So I promised him that he would like it for you know, reasons, but not because I knew that he actually would like it just because I didn’t want to go alone. I wanted to go see it with him. So I was very self motivated. Turns out he didn’t like it, he fell asleep. He just doesn’t like musicals. Maybe he never will and that’s okay. Now, that’s not a very severe example of an unsolicited promise, but think of the last time you made one and the next time somebody promises you something without you asking for it. Ask yourself, why did they just do that? Do you doubt them? Are there other survival signals at play?
Let’s recap those other signals. We started off with discounting the word no. Then forced teaming, which is when somebody makes a “we” where there isn’t one. Then charm and niceness. Too many details. Typecasting, loansharking and of course the unsolicited promise. Gavin goes on to talk about dangerous relationships and domestic violence, stalkers and the efficiency of restraining orders and a lot of really, really fascinating and very important stuff. If you are not riveted and forever changed by this book, I will personally buy your copy off of you and gift it to someone else. That is how much I believe in this book. Now I want to recount a couple of stories from my own life, a few examples that helped me illustrate these survival signals inaction.
Like most of us, I’m assuming my parents taught me to not talk or take candy from strangers. I sort of assumed the part about the unmarked vans that’s just kind of a no-go in general. But I was also taught to “be nice” I grew up being nice in a nice neighborhood and I didn’t have much cause to be afraid ever. Not that red hot type of fear that rings the fight or flight alarm. Anyways. So by the time I moved to LA at 18 years old, I was a professional at being nice. I was really, really good at seeing the good in people and telling myself that everything will be okay. The year was 2005 and the corner of sixth and spring street, downtown LA was certainly not what it is today. That’s where I lived when I first moved to LA. I was catcalled often and harassed for money frequently. Uh, once a man even exposed himself in front of me.
Woah. Anyways, every time something like that would happen in my brain through its little warning signal, I would promptly ignore it. I’d tell myself, this is perfectly normal. That kind man simply drink too much and doesn’t have a home and he just needs to relieve himself on my apartment building right here in front of me. I should pretend to be on my phone so that I don’t interrupt him. I remember another instance very, very clearly as I walked from my car to my building, a rough looking man followed me so closely and for so long that I could tell it was vodka, not whiskey or gin that was making him swerve from my left to my right. The scary part of this story is not that something terrible happened to me. I actually made it into my building safely. The scary part is that I kept my pace because I didn’t want him to think that suspected him of following me. I didn’t want to offend him by running away. I prioritized his feelings above my instinct to protect my own safety. That’s scary. I also recall one incident on tour. Some of the band and the dancers were having a drink at the hotel bar. Not in a particularly dangerous part of town, pretty high class establishment, but a stranger began buying drinks for one of us ladies and it didn’t take him long to zero in on one of us in particular, who was responding really positively to his very unsolicited gestures of “kindness.” He was buying drink after drink even after she said no. Then eventually he put his scarf around her. He said, Ooh, that looks good on you. She smiled and giggled and thanked him and he told her she could keep it. She declined. He insisted. She accepted and said, thank you. Then he offered her yet another drink and she said, no. He said, come on, don’t be rude. I gave you my scarf. You look beautiful. Just one more. She sweetly tried to explain that she meant no offense and was just trying to have a good time with her friends once again and this time not so kindly. He insisted on buying her another drink. I’d seen enough of this dude and I didn’t want to hear what he would insist on next. The gift of fear helped me identify that this man was undeniably up to no good. He ignored the word no. He used unsolicited gifts and charm and niceness to put her in his debt. He definitely loan sharks her. These were just a few of the survival signals that Gavin de Becker described in his book and before reading about any of them, I would’ve felt a little bit uneasy about asking this guy to leave us alone, but on that night I wasn’t. I was certain that this guy was up to no good and I felt fully backed up in asking him to leave us alone. It shouldn’t surprise you that when I asked him to leave us alone, he didn’t. He’s probably been rewarded by this type of persistence in the past. It wasn’t until some of our male counterparts insisted that this man leave that he eventually disappeared. I’m very fortunate to have never experienced a truly traumatic event on the road. Part of that may be simply circumstance. Part of it might be that I’m retraining myself from being nice all the time to being safe.
These are my final thoughts on fear. Real fear. First, it’s cool to listen to your instincts. Your life is way more important than other people’s feelings and the word no does not make you rude. Also, not everyone has good intentions. Your good manners might be keeping you from listening to your good instincts and please don’t pretend to be on your cell phone when you’re in potentially dangerous situations. It’s just way better to listen to your instincts than a piece of glass. All right guys. I think that just about does it for fear, at least for now. A huge thank you
Gavin de Becker for writing this book that has opened my eyes and all of my other senses to my surroundings and the subtle signals that are happening all the time. I really hope you all read the book. It’ll be linked in the show notes on my website,theDanawilson.com/podcastunder episode six as well as on the words that move me Amazon shopping list, which is also linked on my website. All right, everybody get out there and keep it funky, but also keep it safe and keep it very smart. Keep it safe, keep it smart and keep it funky. Okay, I will talk to you next week. Bye bye.
KEEP IT FUNKY
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