Ep. #108 How to Think Like a Boss with Maud Arnold

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #108 How to Think Like a Boss with Maud Arnold

Let’s say this episode is a grocery store…  It has one of a kind quirky goodies with a focus on affordability like Trader Joes, it’s ALL organic like Whole Foods, it’s direct from the source like a Farmers Market, and it is HIGH FREAKN QUALITY like Erewhon (which ironically gets a shout out today).  The only difference is that this episode is FREE… but it really is a one stop shop. This episode has everything that might be on your list for self improvement and career navigation INCLUDING 

-my future self technique

– The difference between finding the silver lining and toxic positivity

– Thoughts on gratitude and being a team player while climbing the crew list ladder

– Navigating your offers to work for free 

– Using a Money Diary to save and spending intentionally 

Enjoy filling up your heart cart with Maud!


Mailing List: Scroll to the bottom of the page at thedanawilson.com

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Episode 3 with Chloe Arnold: Dance Lessons are Life Lessons with Chloe Arnold

Chloe and Maud Foundation: https://www.chloeandmaud.com/foundation

Maud Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maudiepooh/?hl=en


Intro: Welcome to Words That Move Me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you, get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, Dana Wilson, and I move people. I am all about the tools and techniques that empower tomorrow’s leaders to make the work of their dreams and live a full life while doing it. So whether you’re new to the game or transitioning to your next echelon of greatness, you’re in the right place.

Dana: Welcome to words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, Dana Wilson. And I moved people. I am all about the tools and techniques that empower tomorrow’s leaders to make the work of their dreams and live a full life while doing it. So whether you’re new to the game or transitioning to your next echelon of greatness, you’re in the right place, friends. Wow. I am so glad that you are joining me today, by the way. Hi, Dana here. Welcome to the podcast. Um, I’m glad that you’re here because I didn’t even know how much I needed to hear what our guest today has to say. So I’m going to go ahead and bet that you could use an ear full of Mata Arnold, right about now.  

Um, Maude is a tap dancer, an actress, a writer, a C O O a. And as you’re about to find out, she is the unofficial spokesperson of choosing the bright side. She is so damn bright. Oh my goodness. Mada and I together, this episode is high voltage, my friend and I am so excited to share it with you. But first wins. We start every episode with wins here, at words that move me and today I’m celebrating a very special one today. I am celebrating dancers, owning their careers, and I know that sounds really corny. I wish you could see the sincerity in my face. I’m tearing up actually. Um, because when you face what I am talking about, when you actually see it happening, it is quite a powerful thing. Um, on January 13th, I hosted the first free words that move me coaching call of the year.  

And I was thrilled by the turnout. I was inspired by the way that the dance community is investing in itself in themselves, in, in yourselves. The support was so real. The vulnerability was also so real. And I think if I were to, to reach and say the empowerment and the progress, we’re also very real. So thank you all for coming. And if you couldn’t make it, or if you completely missed it altogether, if you had no idea this even happened. And, and if you’re curious, if you want to get your feet wet in some career coaching, don’t miss another one. Sign up for my mailing list@thedanawilson.com and you’ll be there for the next one. Um, that said, though, you don’t have to wait for the next free one. You can sign up for the words that move me community. Literally anytime, um, memberships start at $3 a month. So it was like kind of close to free. Like it’s really almost free, kind of almost $3 more than free. Um, I’ll be sure to link to all of those membership details in the show notes to this episode. But yeah, if you’re, if you’re itching for it, if you’re feeling stuck or overwhelmed or confused about where to go and what to do with regards to your lovely creative career, then come and get that coaching. I’m here for it. I am here for you. That is what I’m celebrating today.  Now you go, what is going well in your world?  

Congratulations. I am so glad you’re winning. Keep it up, keep crushing. All right. Now let’s do this. Maud Arnold  is the co-founder of Chloe and MAUD productions and the Chloe and Mude foundation. And if you didn’t put the two together by now, Chloe Arnold and Maud Arnold are indeed sisters. I actually slip up in this episode and call mod Chloe classic sister switch Ru happens all the time. They say, uh, anyways, I had Chloe on the podcast way back in episode three. And to this day, that is one of my favorite episodes. So if you haven’t heard that one yet, check it out right after this one, because it is truly wild how similar these two women are and yet, so remarkably different, so remarkable period. Um, I cannot wait for you to hear what mod has to say about optimism, about authenticity, about being a boss, literally. Um, so, so let’s, uh, get down to business, I suppose, please enjoy this conversation with the one and only Maud Arnold, 

Dana: Holy smokes, Maud Arnold. You know what? You might win for number of reschedules for number of move, move around, schedules, schedule shifts. Um, but I’m so, so glad to have you here, Matt Arnold, welcome to the podcast.  

Maud: Thank you so much for having me Dana and thank you for, um, rescheduling with me so many times. Uh,  

Dana: Oh my God. At least half of those were mine,  

Maud: You know, it’s cause we’re busy and that is a blessing. So  

Dana: I am in agreement with that. I do think we kind of in our pre-roll to this conversation, we’re talking about like, how do people do it? How do people who do all the things, do all the things, because we’re trying to do some of the things struggle. Some of the times  

I watched Debbie Allen and this woman does everything. And I don’t understand, I still don’t understand at 71, how you can executive produce one of the biggest shows on television and then still cook dinner for your family, like who is she? And then also run a dance school  

That as well, Chloe was telling me a story on the plane on the way back from NYC da one weekend. Um, she and I finagled the seats next to each other and people must have just really not been our nonstop chatter, but she told me, Debbie Allen handwrites invitations to her events.  

And then handwrites thank you cards to people who donated and came to  

This conversation with your sister is the reason why I bought words that move me stationary. So I can be handwriting you a thank you note after this very cold, holy  

And last night I was writing. Thank you cards with one of my people that works with us, cause I have really bad handwriting. So it would be like chicken scratch. And, but every note is completely personalized.  

Wait. So someone else wrote them,  

But you, I just gave away my secret it’s okay. Cause you know what, anybody who knows me knows that my handwriting is like a lawyers or a doctors, but everything that is, I typed up every note that she turns the sentiment is personal completely. Yes.  

Okay. So, you know, we are becoming people who do all the things. I think it is an absolute boss, move someone else hand, write your personalized, like invitations and thank you cards. We should all aspire.  

And it’s great. She has is what I’m talking about. Amazing handwriting and you know, it’s great extra money for her. It stresses me out because I’m like, they’re not gonna be able to read this and it all just works out. And then you get my sentiment because like in one of the letters, she was like, why did you mean to write ride or die? And I said, oh yes, that’s one of my close friends, but she helps our foundation a lot. And she said, okay, I just want to make sure because it was professional letters.  

I love this. Okay. I’m going to be, um, asking for the name of this person. We’ll talk anyways. Uh here’s how, how we begin other than with that lovely conversation about stationary and letters. All right here. Here’s how it goes on the podcast. All of my guests introduce themselves. Some people find that daunting. Some people find it liberating. It’s the top of the year. I think it’s a great time to introduce ourselves. Um, I’m actually kind of jealous that you get to do this and I don’t, everybody here knows me for the most part. So go ahead and hit me with, uh, w what do you want us to know about you Maud?  

My name is mod Arnold. I am from Washington DC. I currently live in Los Angeles and New York city. I’m a professional tap, dancer, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and tech investor, and creator of things. And I am an expert in joy, but you know, Dana, how you said everybody here knows you. You know what it made me think of, you know, how Jay Z has that famous song that always plays at the club. And he says, allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Jose coming home.  

That’s true. Allow me to reintroduce myself. Um, well, this is actually, I’m glad that you brought that up. Cause I just rerecorded new ins and outs for the podcast, like reintroducing the podcast. And, uh, you know what, actually, this is very cool. Every so often I would say every year, but it’s more often than that. I focus on and refine my idea of my future self. I have several different techniques for doing this, but one of the ways that I do this is simply write about a handful of people that I really admire. I explain why I admire them, what it is that they do, how they operate, you know, the, the qualities of them that make them so admirable to me. And then I just switched their name out for my name and they switched they with me or I, and then I see how those things line up. Sometimes there are glaring. Like, no, that ain’t true. No, that’s no, no, you can’t say that quite yet, but there, but then in other areas I’m like, oh no, that actually is me. Like I, like we just did with Debbie Allen. Like how, how do you become someone who does all the things and then you found out, wait, no, no, no. I actually actually definitely do all of that. Um, so that perspective shift is really cool, but one of the people on my future self maps was your sister, Chloe Arnold, who has been on the podcast before. And I know that you guys obviously being sisters have a lot in common in terms of your values, your default mode, just in terms of personality, you both strike me as borderline perpetually optimistic. You are breasts.  

We will, we’ll not give it up. The joy  

Was this something instilled in you from the very beginning. Is this something you found or cultivated together? Like, what is this joy thing for you?  

Well, it’s so interesting because my mom has always said that I like came out of the wound like this like came three weeks late. So that’s also why my mom says I’m a procrastinator, Were chilling. And I was like, really? I was like Butterball. I was like really chubby. I weighed almost 10 pounds. It was very cute. But like, she’s like you waited it. She she’s like, you’ve always taken your time and done the way, the things that you want to do the way you want to do. And I think that, you know, client, I grew up poor and without a lot of material things. Um, but our mom never let us play the victim in that and always made us either see the bright side or create the bright side. And so I think that’s why we are so, um, committed to that as adults, you know, remember back in the day toys R us and they say, I don’t want to grow up. I’m a toys R us kid. And I’m like, we believe, why do you have to grow up?  Obviously you have to pay bills, but why do we feel like we have to lose that child? Like curiosity? Um, cause so much joy comes from curiosity. Who are you? You know, what makes you tick? Oh, what is this? How does this work? How do you know, what is this place like, I want to travel there. What is this language feel like in my mouth? And I feel like if you don’t lose that curiosity and you’re committed to joy and using joy as the barometer of your life, then you just do it every day. And it becomes habit.  

I love that idea. And I love creating curiosity as a mode for forward motion, um, self improvement, exploration, and like creating new circumstances for yourself.  

Absolutely because you can create, I have this mug and it says I have two mugs in one, I got my from home goods. Um, isn’t that an advertisement for them, but I’m just saying like, if you ever need like something that uplifts you that, and you small budget go to home goods. And I have one mug that says sunshine, and then I have a mug that says, create your own sunshine. So on the that I’m like, Hmm, I need to create it. I use that much for my tea. And then on the days where I like, oh, I am shine. And I have the sun, I use that much.  

I really would just love to dig a peak in your cupboard. 

I’m like my cupboard, I think,  

Will you do me this? Cause it would be fun to pair this episode with our favorite mugs. I have a handful of favorite mugs as well. And it is, it’s interesting. Like sometimes I do it consciously like, Ooh, this is inappropriate, but I’m going to say it. Um, I got his hand-me-downs from my mom. I don’t know where she got them, but a series of mugs that have animal orgies on them. And you don’t actually know that that’s what you’re looking at. Cause they’re kind of artful line drawings and I have, there are bears, bunnies and elephants. And I only have, I think one of my other siblings has one of them, but I have bunnies and bears. Um, and it’s hysterical to me because you really do have to look closely to see what exactly is going on. And so when I’m feeling mischievous or sneaky or like, Hmm, I kind of like maybe kind of want to put a middle finger up to the situation. I am drinking from an animal orgy mug fully on zoom calls, casual professional.  

They don’t know. And they didnt know, but they do now.  

Well they do now. And now they know that maybe if you have an animal or do you mind, they need to get it together. It might be a sign. Okay. So coffee mugs aside. I think you’re, you’re a principled person who thinks deliberately act accordingly. And this is something I admire about your sister as well. Um, I just, yeah, I’m attracted to it. I’m very attracted to it, but you and I actually, haven’t got to log as many hours as Chloe and I have because she and I worked together. Um, so I want to get real and authentic. Um, I want to like place myself where you were about what is this now three months ago? How long ago did you guys wrap?

We wrapped in October. End of October. So yeah, three months ago, two months.  

So two months ago you were working on a massive apple feature film called spirited, starring Ryan Reynolds. And I can’t even, I’m so jealous because Carol is like top of the tops for me. Um, and I know so many of my listeners a want to be working on feature films. I want to be living by coastal, want to be, you know, in the places and spaces that you are working in. So without asking you to tell me everything, tell me everything. Like how did you wind up on the project? Um, what were the skills that you felt really prepared with? Is there anything you would do differently? Is there anything that like totally crashed and burned?  

I, well, when I have to say, oh, and also Octavia Spencer starring in the film too.  

Incredible. Thank you for saying that. That is massively important.  

Oscar winner it’s insane. Phenomenal, phenomenal human being like so sweet. She posted Chloe yesterday on her Instagram talking about some, I can’t wait to, y’all see this movie, wait til you see what Chloe Arnold did get her now before you miss out, you know, before  

Try go that, that type of elevating Chloe freaking Arnold has been out there in the world, elevating people, sharing people’s talent on her platform, giving people opportunities. And now that is what is being returned to her. This is a brilliant example of that. And I’ve always looked to her as being a person who does that very well. And I’m so glad to hear that that is being returned in her direct.  

It’s so cool. And you are absolutely right. And again, we learned that from our mom and Debbie Allen and our dance teacher, Ms. Tony lawn break, growing up, it was like, you are your sister’s keeper. There’s no competition amongst, amongst, you know, people you love. You’re only in competition with yourself. So if you’re not elevating those around you and you’re not elevating yourself, what are you doing? And I think that going back to your question about how do we get to the movie? We’ll close the choreographer. I’m her sister. Um, I dance too, you know? And, and it’s so funny because sometimes people ask me like, oh, like, do you feel insecure? Or they insinuate, nobody asks anything straight up, by the way, are you insecure? Like, do you feel like you just got this because of your sister, are you in this space? You know, or am I like walking on eggshells?  Cause I feel like, oh, I’m here. Just because Chloe is my sister. And like, she hired me like, first of all, let’s just talk about it. One nepotism is a real thing because everybody utilizes nepotism. It doesn’t have to be your family. It can be your friend. I call it. It was proximity. You know, you’re my friend. I can get you a job. I know you. I think the problem with nepotism and why it has a bad rap is, is when people get jobs they’re not qualified for because they’re family or because they know somebody like, Hey Dana, can you run? Can you be the CEO of my, um, computer tech company? And you don’t even know anything about computers. That would be the misuse of nepotism. But if I’m like, Hey Dana, there’s this choreography for this TV show. It sounds exactly up your alley. If you to do it. That’s the right way. That’s networking. That’s the point of your network is to utilize your network. It’s not abusing the situation it’s using. Right? So I went with Chloe to do the movie for five weeks at the beginning, I was a part of the design team because the movie was a seven month process in Boston and you know, Chloe and I have our businesses and we have our foundation and I also, I run all of those things. I’m the COO chief operating officer. So I run everything. If you work for us and you want to get paid, I’m writing the check. If you anything. I do all of that. So it was kind of one of those things where it’s like, if I was in Boston with her for seven months working full time, everything else will fall by the wayside and would slip.  

 It was slipped. 100%. Our foundation would slip. We have after-school programs running in LA, too. In Brazil. We have a lot of things going on. And um, I was like, I’m just going to do the five weeks. So I would go for the five weeks. It was so much fun. Um, I’d worked on a film before with Jared Grimes and Paul Becker called breaking Brooklyn. And that was my first time on a feature length film. Love that movie. It’s great. Go watch it. It’s super heartwarming. Great Christmas movie. And, um, it was Chloe’s first movie. So I was also going kind of like knowing something to support and, and, you know, clay was very much of the, like, of course I’m bringing my sister we’ve, we’ve been sucks in everything. We’ve done. Success wise, we’ve done it together. So going into my biggest project to date, why wouldn’t I bring my ACE?  So I went and I helped. And I, a lot of it was, uh, not even a lot of dancing. It was a lot of like helping her Ava and Martha organized things, put things together, make sure everybody has a script, make sure everybody is on the same page. It’s structured. Just making sure we’re staying on task, creating reference boards for things, pulling references, thinking of ideas. I’m a very big idea person having ideas. Uh, also having just a, another eye. That’s not making up the dances, you know, and I think that in that five weeks flew by, it was amazing. It was so much fun. I learned so much too because I had never been on a film of such a big budget and you know, a big studio and just the learning process and meeting all of the amazing executive producers on this film and the people that were working production and all of this stuff.  

Um, and I think the tools I say that got me, there are one doing all of the work when I was a PA for music, rap music, videos, and RMB videos. When I was at Columbia, I was a PA and I would have jobs like, can you take this toothbrush and make sure we get all those little Nicks out of that white wall, because we should be told these people who weren’t going to make their wall. Can you, after report diamonds, fake diamonds on this video ground, a bikini, can you pick up each diamond and you can’t sweep it? Cause then desk gets on it and we don’t want a poor desk center. And, uh, me being at the feet of a woman while I’m pursuing an Ivy league education, making a hundred dollars to work a 24 hour day, and she’s making maybe five to 10 K to work a few hours and stand there and look pretty and doing that with joy and humility and learning how to be a part of the team and knowing, and not feeling like I’m unimportant.  

No, because guess what? No, he’s picking up the diamonds, the video can’t get made. And I think that it’s that humility that a lot of people don’t understand. You see the success and you don’t see the steps. You know, like I could have been like, I am at Columbia university and I’m getting an Ivy league degree. Why am I doing this for such little money? I mean, that video that I’m talking about, it was actually a 25 hour day and I got to get $125 and I’m on my hands and knees doing this. And then, but here’s the thing then you flip and you turn to now we’re on the movie. Cause I went back to shoot for a month and a half. And um, we’re dancing on his platforms with water and there’s a PA who’s coming between every take with a towel and wiping it down and, and I make sure, and it’s also just like natural for me to be like, thank you so much.  

Thank you for working so hard because having Pete at PA it is the most thankless difficult low-paying job on set. But let me tell you the best producers, the best executive producers, the best directors were all PAs. And, and I think that that, because it’s, you, you understand how important it is to be a part of the team. And I think that again, getting to this place, it’s like no ego, there’s no space or time for ego. Like I have been lucky and blessed enough to be, to have met and know some of the most legendary and most famous people in the world. None of them have ego, you know, like, so like I’ve worked with Beyonce and you’ve worked with major ALA celebrities as well. And I remember the first time I worked with Beyonce, I walk in and just, wow, you’re so beautiful.  

And then we were doing stuff all day and she, she came up to me and she said, thank you so much for working so hard. And, and I’m like, oh, this is, and I was 21 at the time. So I am I’m screaming on the inside because also I had just seen the Beyonce experience store. And I was like, did span girling, but totally professional. She was so kind, and it just reminds you that it’s like her kindness is a reflection of her own personal joy. And it’s like, if you’re not going to be kind and be that famous, what’s the point because you can be famous and live in a bubble of anger and insecurity and despair. She’s living in joy and kindness and love and, and not insecurity. And so I was learning from her and Debbie Allen and, you know, rip, I got to meet the incredible Cicely Tyson before she passed away. And when she was getting an honorary Oscar, and just the lessons and conversations I’ve had with these incredible women and people, it just teaches you to be humble every step of the way I love.  

So the word despair, yes, that’s, what’s happening in the world is just like people doing all of the right things and like being all mighty and powerful, but feeling like the beside of the human stick and don’t get me wrong. I really, I think you and your sister are exquisite. Examples of manifesting what you want in the world. And for you both, certainly from you, what it sounds like today, that’s joy. I don’t think you can Dodge the other side of the emotional spectrum. I think as a human being, you will experience rejection or, um, self-doubt, or maybe even despair, but identifying that you have the power to create the other side of the spectrum. That is where the solid gold is at. Like, yes, I can deal with despair. I can deal with self-doubt. I can deal with frustration, confusion. And because I can deal with those things, I spend most of my time doing the other, or I spend most of my time, you know, processing those things, feeling those things. And then moving on to, to, to the other side of the spectrum that  

I think that’s what defines us is how do we deal with the hard moments? You know, like when it rains in LA you’re like, Ugh, but then how much more does it make you love LA when the sunshine comes out? You know, it’s like you can’t exp do you remember that song? Joy and pain, sunshine and rain.  

Oh yes. Ooh. I feel like I did across the floors to that in jazz class a lot.  

Probably. Yes. Probably an y’all sorry, I can’t sing, but I also, I often think about that. Like, you can’t have one without the other absolute to compare, this is the argument it’s like, do you wallow in this? Right.  

Right. This is the argument for my belief that we will all spend our human lives in a pretty perfect bell curve of distribution of positive and negative. Because if you can think of a joyful thing, a perfect day on set, the absence of that thing would be an equal and opposite, not so great feeling. So I really do think this like equal 50, 50, the thought that 50 50 will happen randomly and naturally is comforting to me. And knowing that like, I can, I can change my mind at any point about whether or not a rainy day is a bad day or a good day. I think of people like you. I think of people like gene Kelly, I think of Jillian Meyers and all of a sudden, I love a rainy day. Cause I’m like, someone’s out there loving this rain  

 And that loving it, or sitting at home, cuddling by themselves and loving, loving that  

Whatever got canceled. Right. I’m only not loving it. If I am in my car on the 134 in particular,  

That’s no fun, but I always try to magnify the positive and I’ll be like, wow, like when I’m on the freeway and it’s raining, I’m like, tell me your thoughts. That means there won’t be any brush fires for at least a little bit. 

I love you  

Because I went without, I was driving down the 405 and I literally drove past the hill on fire and I could feel the heat on my window. And I was on the other side of the highway and I was like, this is so scary because LA is so dry. So I always just try to magnify the positive. That’s me. One of me and Chloe’s little mantras is magnify the positive, like, you know, in horror movies or not even horror movies and TV shows, as soon as they say it, couldn’t get worse, it’s going to get worse. And so you never say this couldn’t be worse. And I also say that to say like, because I am so joyful and fun and even seemingly carefree, sometimes people tell me, sometimes people might think, oh, mom’s a pushover Mazda. You know, just kind of wakes up somebody.  

Speaker 2    00:31:29    Actually, I haven’t got a few people at DM me and they’re like, are you really like this? Or is this fake for Instagram? Like, no, I’m really like this, but it’s not without work. It’s it’s choices. It’s cutting people off who aren’t kind, who aren’t, who aren’t feeding that joy. It’s cutting off circumstances. It’s not taking jobs. Um, that might compromise your values or beliefs. It’s, you know, stop dating the person that puts you down. That’s not okay. It comes with sacrifice, but I don’t even call it. It’s like, it comes with sacrifice that upgrades you, but you have to sacrifice. And I think that people forget that what joy is just like, oh, mom’s just happy. And it’s like, yes, but these are choices. I mean, growing up client, I had friends being murdered. We’ve been to too many funerals of people under 21. Um, you know, we saw people, so many friends going to prison, going to jail, facing systematic racism on a daily basis. And which is why I always say joy is an act of resistance. You know, the world is trying to crush you in many ways. And it’s like, nah, I’m a be, I’m happy. I would figure this out. What can I do? Who can I call to brighten my day? What can I read sometimes I just watch fresh prince of Bel-Air because it makes me happy.  

I think what you’re saying right now, underlines the difference between toxic positivity and positive. I think what you’re saying is like, things really are happening. It’s not saying it’s not looking at incarceration and being like, oh, perfect. That is great because those people are going to come out of it better and I’m going to learn from it. And it’s like, that’s ignoring reality. That is delusional. That is toxic positivity  

And it’s ignorance.  

Yes. Um, I think your understanding of what is awful and your understanding of your ability to create joy for yourself happen in, in the same body and sometimes at the same time, even, and that is a particular brand of positivity that I want to subscribe to because I have felt, especially now, as I’m getting into coaching work and I’m, you know, I’m a person who’s on Instagram in 2022, you’re going to see the toxic positivity. And it really gives me cavities. I am, I, my dad encouraged me to be a critical thinker. My, you know, my lived experience is one of a middle-class white person from the suburbs. My, the things that I’ve seen are the things that I’ve seen, the things that I’ve learned or the things that I’ve learned, but I’m committed to my own awareness of myself in relationship to the world, versus I’m just going to invent the world in my head. That’s the way I think it should be going. Um, yeah. Cause I think that’s dangerous that doesn’t, it’s not as helpful as what you’re explaining.  

It’s dangerous for the person doing it for their, for themselves. And it’s dangerous for young people because I think sometimes people are, are, do like the fake positivity and pretend like it’s all good because they’ve experienced severe trauma in their life and this is the way to mask it. And when you’re masking it, you’re not doing the work of actually trying to heal and go through it. You know, you got to go through it to get to it. And, and I think people forget the strength in vulnerability. You know, like right now I’m on Instagram, I’m doing this money diary. So I put it up yesterday and I was like money diary, day one. And then I got all these dams from people that are like, what is a money diary? And I’m like, I spend too much money. 

So you are writing down every single thing you spent,  

Every single thing. And yesterday I was going to go buy a smoothie. And then I was like, I can make one at home. And that saved me like $15 top to bottom. You know what I’m saying? Because I’m like, Ooh, I don’t want to have to write that down  

That I do. I do. I do something similar with food diary or food journaling. Ooh, that’s great. I don’t do it constantly, but when I’m really focused on my eating and the way I feel in my body and about my body, I do, I write it down because for exactly the same reason you just said, I don’t want to have to write down handful of almonds again, like I did already. I can actually, it takes less energy for me to sit right here and not do that. And so I’m not going to get up and walk. I’m not going to open the cupboard. I’m not going to eat a handful of almonds and I’m not going to write it down. And I just saved countless, countless, what is it? I guess, calories, calories, or K calories or whatever. But I, I think, I think that type of journaling is very valuable because again, it’s awareness, it’s awareness. And then it’s also the remembering that you get to choose. And so much of that type of mindless spending or in some cases eating comes just by default. It’s like, oh no, that’s what I do. I get a Starbucks in the morning. And you think that’s a normal word?  

Yeah. Or I’m bored. I’ll eat bored. I’ll eat bored, eating. You do  

Not in January. My friend, I am wrapping it up. The emotional, eating the board, eating. No thank you. I am here for a life that is way more exciting than my food. That is what I’m about. And you’re here for life. That’s more exciting than spending money because when you get to make stuff, it’s also, let’s be real. There are a few examples that are exceptions, but it’s better.  

Well, yesterday was bomb. And then I made another one today and I’m like, I’m good at this. I mean, you know, I also like to toot my own horn, which I think is extremely important to do as small to celebrate little wins. I was like, this is Bob. I was like, this is delicious.  

I know that that on the podcast, I start every episode with wins. I love this very interview. We’ll actually be following a win. And I don’t even know what that win is yet because I haven’t recorded the opening of this podcast. Um, I love that you’re celebrating fabulous smoothies and the money diary. I think everybody should go check on your Instagram page. I’m very curious to see the type of spending and that’s  

And I’m going to post what I spent. Um, so I just started it yesterday. I’m going to post at the end of the week, I’m into the seven days. I’m going to post everything that I spent. And then I’m going to challenge people if they want to join me on the money diary. Because also I want to write, like, if I’m embarrassed to say, to show what I’m spending, then I shouldn’t be spending it because the reality is right. It’s like, I don’t want to do any fruitless spending. And I also think it’s super important. I got this idea by the way, from refinery 29 money diaries. And I started noticing in these people’s, uh, money diaries that a lot of people who made good money budgeted between a hundred and $500 a month to giving back, to donate into a cause. And I donate money so much to so many things, but I don’t track it.   And so I’m like, you know what? I only track it at the end of the year when I’m like doing my write-offs, but I’m like, you know what? I want to start because if I’m wasting money, let’s say a hundred dollars a month on smoothies that I can be making at home. I’d rather take that a hundred dollars and give it to a cause. So it’s not even about like, I can’t afford these things. It’s like redistributing how I’m spending my money and focusing more on saving because you know, the reality is, is that I could be saving more and why not save? I have mortgages. I could be putting them down money on the principal.  

 Let’s talk about mortgages, plural. Hell yes, God. I’m so impressed by you. And I love, I, I wanted to talk about kind of goal cultivation and the way that you make things happen for yourself. And what we’re talking about now is exactly that lifestyle changes like keeping a money diary, which might not be natural right now is really not a big shift. We’re not talking about like running seven miles a day. We’re not talking about white knuckle, gripping yourself through something you hate doing so that you can have a six pack abs at the end or, or, or $50,000 in the bank. At the end, it’s like practical changes, mindful shifts that are like, Ooh, I could be, I spend a lot in these areas and a lot relative to maybe past self or a lot relative to, um, future people. I think this is another misconception that keeps middle-class people middle-class is thinking that very wealthy people spend a lot of money all the time. 

Um they eat at home.  

They eat at home or they say like, you know, we’ll give a budget for something like, yes, you can spend this amount of money. And I bet that relative to the amount of money they have, that number is lower than the amount of money. Like I see, I see some fellow dance types buying these cars and these shoes and these purses and these like nails and hairs. And, and I don’t know how much people make, always been fascinated though. So actually mod, we probably gonna have to have you come back for money March or do an Instagram live together on your mind.  

That was March. Cause I have a whole, I have a whole, uh, theory about that and I actually call it, this is really inappropriate, but it’s okay. Because guess what? Everybody’s on Instagram and everything now. So I can say it, I call it stripper money mentality and tell me more. Well, I booked, I booked this job that paid $500. I can go now and spend that on shoes and my nails, which I didn’t realize that people were spending upwards of $200 on these emails. I had no idea.  It’s a thing.  

I had no idea. 

Well. And when you look at the amount of work and craftsmanship and materials and time, it takes time. I’m not saying those nails are poorly evaluated, valued, poorly valued. But what I am saying is like, I don’t know, but like I’m seeing people with new nails often and yes,  

I didn’t know it was so expensive. 

Oh my God. And I think here’s the thing is that I’m all about like, do things like spend money, invest in your joy and invest in things that make you feel good. And I am, Chloe will call me a shopaholic any day. All my friends would be like, mom, be shopping. I have, I have four closets full of clothes. Like, let me not pretend. But I also am at a place now where I don’t shop as much and I give away so many clothes. Everybody will tell you, like I have, I also love sneakers, but I remember I saw melody. Assani like maybe like eight years ago. And she’s a designer, she’s friends with Chloe. And she had just come up with these shoes over $200. And I was like, oh my God. I was like, melody. I love those shoes.  I was actually at an event at like at her store. And I was like, these shoes are so cute. I was like, they’re so dope. Congrats. And I was like, I wanted to buy them, but I’m saving money to buy an apartment right now. So I can’t buy them. And she said, girl, don’t buy my shoes, buy your apartment. And this is the, oh, this is the woman who, whose shoes it is. And she understood and saw the value in investing and saving. So again, it’s about sacrifices. Like you sacrifice for joy. But back to my stripper mentality, it’s just going to bring it back. I feel like, sorry, I had to bring it back. So like shippers can make a lot of money, right? They can, some also don’t make any money also, which is everybody  

Everybody’s focusing on this history. Strippers are rich.  

Yes. And I’m like, a lot of them are, but they’re stuck in a cycle because if you can make $2,000 a night, you might go spend that 2000 the next day, because you say, well, I’m going to make it again tonight, but that’s not sustainable. Because then that means you have $0 at the end of each day. And what if you break your zero  

Or you have to, when you get to the end of the year and you have to pay taxes  

And you have to pay taxes because you 1099 to, because you’re already gigger and the government is going to the IRS. No cut for that cash. Okay. Because if you have high value items, nice car, nice house. They’re going to say, well, where’s all the money. How did you get this? Where, how do you prove this? Which is also why, you know, for anybody listening, if you realize now you can’t deposit cash into other people’s bank accounts anymore. You have to, because they have to be able to track all of the money because there was so much money laundering. I call that the stripper money mentality of like, oh, I made this today. I can make it back again next week or tomorrow. And the next job I’m gonna spend it off. And there’s no looking forward at the future. It’s like, do you want to buy property? Do you want to go on vacation? Do you have money for a rainy day? Do you have, you know, if, even if your career is like booming, God forbid you get injured. God forbid you have to go home and take care of a family member or, or Corona virus happens again and everything. You lose gigs.  

Exactly. So that’s what I call it. And I think that I fell into that trap when I was living in New York, after I graduated from college and I was teaching dance at dance studios and I was making great money. And I was just spending money in New York. Like I was balling. And it was kind of so easy in New York is the easiest. And it was like, oh, I’m not going to make that next week. I’m gonna make that next week. And then at the end of the year, my mom was like, you owe money in taxes. Where’s that money? I’m like, so now my mom always says, pay yourself. First 30% of everything you make. Um, speaking of which, and we can actually talk about this in March Monday, March clay and I are investors in a financial app app called Abel that helps 10 99 owners and giggers plan where their taxes, it links to your bank account. It tells you so every time. So let’s say you signed up and you got a deposit for $10,000 from a gig. I paid you $10,000. You get the deposit is going to say, Hey, Dana, you just got a $10,000 deposit from Chloe. And my productions is this work or was this a gift? And you can say, it’s worked. And then they’re going to say, all right, great. Do you want us to transfer the 

by in person to emergency fund 10% to the tax fund, 30% to a retirement.  

Exactly. And then it’ll do it for you and I’ll even pay your quarterlies for you.  

 Oh, that’s the part. Okay. So we’ll, we’ll reserve this conversation for later, but the whole quarterly thing, I’m like, listen, I hate it. I hate that.I I’m a sensible person. Right? I’ve spent this entire episode talking about awareness and choosing my feelings, but let me tell you what I believe in my bones, that taxes, not my thoughts, but taxes make me angry. And so I’m like, why would I ever do that four times per year when I could just do it once  

 And every year it’s awful. And I’m going to my tax payer right after this podcast.  

Perfect, good. We’ll bring a lot of questions for me. I ask every year, I’m like, do I really have to do it that way? Can I can’t I just do it once per year. And every time I get some wishy-washy answer this like, well, you really should. It doesn’t really change. So I’m like, well then I’m not going to do it. And then every year wish I had, and every year they ask if I did an album, having a meltdown, having 10 different tantrum four times a year  

As you get that. And you’re like, oh, you get that 20,000 bill. And it feels a little different than having broken it up at $5,000 bills four times. Right.  

But I think, go ahead. Oh no, go ahead. I’m actually good at shaving off percentages off of my income and di and dispersing them into a candidate. That I’m very good at that. And so  

I feel like, but that’s so unique, you know, that you’re like the 1% of 1%  

I might be, but I got this from kind of a shameful piece of me, which is my entire mentality about money until I was like 22. When I was trying to buy a house was work really hard and pretend like you’re broke. That was it. I had no other strategy at all. And so then not a bad strategy. It’s not a bad strategy, but it’s not going to make you a millionaire, which is like it’s. So I found a book it’s called the money book. I talk about it during money, March a lot. And it’s specifically for independent contractors, people who are self-employed and the, the holy Trinity, they call it is this notion of a retirement account, an emergency account, and then a tax account, three different high-interest yield savings accounts, preferably at a bank that doesn’t even have a storefront, some III bank somewhere. Um, so you can’t even be going in and taking money out.  

I cut up ATM cards for counseling  That just disappears and is earning hundreds of dollars in interest per year. And when I get paid, I just shave off percentages and throw it in there. So I do have money when the tax man comes once a year, I do it four times a year. I’m having a tantrum. So anyways, I hate it. I  Feel robbed every, every time.  And we live in California. So people would argue that we actually are getting robbed.  

We are, but every time, like I hit a pothole, I’m like, why the hell am I paying taxes? Or like, every time I go to one of the schools that we have actual programming and they don’t have books and good resources, I’m like, why the hell am I paying taxes? And that’s what pisses me off. But then it’s just, it is a, it’s a part of living here, living in state. It’s like, we’ve chosen to live in California, which is one of the most expensive places, high tax places to live. But it’s like, I also love being able to drive the beach. I love that I live 15 minutes from CBS studios for work. I let you know. I love that. I go to Erewhon and I see one of my favorite TV show writers, and I can say, Hey, you’re an inspiration. And you know, all of those things are fueling to me.  

You can walk out of Erewhon and go make your own smoothie instead of buying a $15. You just walk in just, just for like the social.  

Literally. I was like sometimes and, oh gosh, I love that place, but Ooh.  

Oh, it’s, it’s insane. It’s insane. It’s actually, I mean,  

Prada. Yeah. It’s Prada. It’s proud of groceries. Yeah.  

I’ll take that. And sometimes that works. I remember, I remember buying my first pair of like, grown-up heels. I bought Manolo Blahniks after, um, after my first tour and I prepared myself for what would happen at the till they would say a number I would give my credit card and then I would have that many dollars, less dollars. But what I did not prepare myself for was the way that I felt when I saw myself in those shoes. I mean,  

And knowing that you bought and they were,  

They were, yeah, I did that.  

You bought them. It was a tremendous feeling. I felt it when I bought my first actual art, like art and my house, of course. And that is absolutely worth saying no to this or saying no to that. Um, so I hope that everyone listening gets to feel that for themselves to think of something that they think is spectacular to work towards it, to earn it, and then to have it, it is a tremendous feeling. Um, and this app say the name of the app one more time. Cause I hope it sounds so helpful. Okay. We’re going to have to have you return and have Chloe and you for money March. This is so exciting. Um, we didn’t get to really wrap up this idea about the film, but from the sounds of it, you landed in, um, a recipe of preparedness and like-minded folks who have a similar goal and kind of similar values and ways of working along the way, um, like this kind of zoom out idea. People who are able to step back and look at a big picture. And yet we’ll pick up the diamonds with their bare hands because they understand the fine details really, really matter. And I think that that applies what we see on the screen, but also the way that we conduct a rehearsal, like fine tooth details matter. And also the big picture really matters. Are people feeling cared for people feeling heard are, you know, is, is there water here? Like I also think it’s important to know your place when you go into anything and that’s not to be like, you know, know your place in a condescending way, but know your place. It’s extremely helpful. So it’s like, if you’re going on this movie and your name is not one or two or three on the call sheet, you have to understand you’re not the star and that’s okay. Be excited that you’re a part of something that’s great. And if that doesn’t make you excited, then you should walk away from the project. Because the reality is, is that number one, two and three on the cost sheet, we’re number 28, 55 and 75 at some point as well. And I think that people also, especially for any dancers that want to work in film or television, it is such a collaborative process. It is truly collaboration is it’s.  

If one link is weak, then the whole, the whole ship can crash. You know? And so I heard this great analogy the other day, it was about a boat and it said, uh, if you’re on a cruise ship and one person decided to, uh, put a hole in their room, cause they wanted water. You can’t, they can’t say, well, it’s my room. I just wanted water in my room. It will sink the whole ship. And it’s like, how do you look at the whole picture? And I also am a strong believer in like really assess a job. Don’t just get excited. Like, oh my God, um, Tina Turner asked me on tour and it’s for a year in Eastern Europe, you have to say, okay, how do I feel about being away from my family for a year? How do I feel about Eastern Europe? What is the pay? How do I feel? Does this artist inspire me enough to be with them for a whole year to do this? By the way of Tina Turner called me to do a year, anywhere in the road, I’d go. Just, just Saying just so everyone is clear,  

But, but there are artists that I would be like, no, I don’t want to be in a room with them for 20 minutes. Their music doesn’t inspire me. It makes me unhappy. It disrespects women or I don’t like it, you know? And that’s okay to say, and it’s important to have that discernment, but I would say the success and you know, getting to that place is humility. It’s training. And it’s showing up and being present. Like if you, you know, love Ava Bernstein’s choreography and you want to get to know her, go to her class. Don’t you know, say, Hey, I would love to do skeleton crew for you one day. If you’re just working on something, it don’t say. And then if she calls you and says, Hey, do you want to come in? We’re doing skeleton group. Don’t let the first question or even thought be, am I getting paid for this? Because now you’re doing it for the wrong reasons.  

What should the first thought be in your mind? Is this scenario plays out?  

Oh, if I am like a big Ava fan, she calls me and I’ve told her, oh my God, I’m so excited. What time? And where do you need me to bring anything? That’s the question. Maybe she needs you to come take notes. Maybe she needs you to have your laptop to cut some music. The question for me, when I am looking, seeking mentorship is how can I contribute to this situation? Do you need me to bring anything? Do you have waters for everybody? I can pick them up. Be helpful, be an asset. How can you contribute? It takes $5. You know, it’s a thought. And so I think so many people are like, I deserve, I deserve. And I think social media has made us think like instant gratification and instant I deserve. And this entitlement and it’s like, you ain’t entitled to nada. Nobody is every breath we take is it is, is a blessing. And we’re lucky to take each breath. We’re not entitled to anything. People are dying at this moment right now. So it’s like approaching it with gratitude. And how can I elevate this situation with the skillset that I have? I’m not going to say, Hey, if I can cut music, if I don’t know how to do it, but I can say, Hey, I can take great notes for you. And I’m really good at Excel. These are my skills. How can I help you with this?  

And do you expect in this hypothetical situation, future work, do you expect, would you hope for monetary exchange at some point, what is like, help me understand this because we’re also talking actual dollar bills and people on the come-up ain’t going to get far up without, at some point receiving. Yes. So how does that moment in, in this, in this like offering of self and of talent and of time and of in some cases, actual money in your mind, where does the switch happen? Is it yeah. Period.  

 I think the switch, I think here’s what I think. Um, you don’t, you cannot ever grow from a place of desperation. So you also should not be going into this. Let’s say, Ava, I love the we’re using Ava.  

That’s what’s happening right now. This in my podcast, booth is a photo of Ava.  

I’ve actually know that photo it’s blurry right now, but I know that part of the Shanghai, cause I’ve seen it on the internet.  

 I love this. Um,  

Yeah, I’ve seen the photo of the photo  

And I love to talk to about all the things. And so I put her in here because when I talked to her, she asks good questions and I respond honestly. And so she’s my reminder of that. Um, carry on ethics are 150%. You want to talk? You want to have, you have an ethic question. You got Ava, you call mama Shula and they’re going to, they’re ethical. They’re they’re going to be able to take themselves out of the situation and say, this is right and this is wrong.  

Oh, Shula is the greatest everybody’s Shula is  Ava’s mother. She was, it was mom,The silver hair.  

Oh, she’s a dream. And once she, and one day, one day in true, like high school fashion, even though Eva and I were well into our twenties, um, Shula and Papa doc drove us to the mall where we were going to like, do some shopping, get our eyebrows threaded. I don’t know this was during a break in the future sex love show tour. And neither Ava had a place to live. Like we got rid of our apartments to go on tour and I don’t even remember, did I have a car? I don’t think anyways, we got a ride to the mall. I got my eyebrows done. They picked us up and we sat in the back seat and it was nighttime. And, um, I was like, Sheila, I got my eyebrows done. What do you think? And she curved around the side of her seat, looked at my face and turn it around without saying a single word.  

She didn’t want to ruin your life.  

And so she just didn’t say anything so honest. I, I cannot tell you  

Barometer of like, I just, I love them. I love that whole family. I love it.  

We’re back. You get, you get the real focus and that’s why we’re using Ava.  

We’re using Ava. So let’s say, okay, so let’s say I go and I, of course you, it’s okay to be hopeful that this person will hire you one day, but it cannot be the only motivation because also you have to see what you’re getting. You’re getting, even if you’re going to do skeleton crew, right? Let’s say you’re new dancer in LA. You’re going to do skeleton crew for Ava for maybe just an idea. She has. She just wants to work some things out in a studio and you’re not getting paid. You’re getting free training. You’re getting a class. She’s getting to know you as a dancer. You’re getting a private class and you’re getting to know her as a choreographer and as a teacher. And that is priceless. Well, of course you could pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to get that one-on-one time with said choreographer. I also think it’s really important for young people and dancers to be young is to have money. Um, so you’re not desperate. So whether that means, I mean, let me tell you, I have that air job. Every job I’ve had a job since I was eight years old, I sweep hair at a barber barbershop in DC. I have worked at the mall. I have babysat. I have tutored. I have, um, been a driver for somebody who broke their leg in LA. I have organized closets. I have organized computers. I have done every job you can think of. Guess who has never been broke yours? Truly. I have cocktail waitress. I have waitress. I have no problem and no ego working because I will never go into a situation desperate because that’s how you get bitter. And that’s how you get angry. Like, I can’t believe I did that three hour session with Ava.  

Speaker 2    01:02:50    And then she hired for that TV show. And she didn’t call me for that show. Well, you don’t know the people who have maybe put in 10 to 15 hours who maybe she’s known for 10 years and maybe she thought of you for the next job. Or maybe you were too short for the director. And they didn’t like how you looked. And that is why you can’t be desperate. You can’t be bitter. And you can’t assume because even if you were like hurt by it, the best thing to do is to call Ava and say, Hey, I saw you did the thing. I know I wasn’t cast. What can I work on for the future? What was it? What, what, where am I lacking? Cause then you might even just find out, oh, you’re not black, you’re black. And they wanted a white girl. Right? And then you’re like, oh cool, whatever. You know, whatever it is. And I think that people go in with too much entitlement and expectation of monetary things. And of course we got to make money and you, you got to get your money straight. But a lot of this is give and take. It is, it is art. But even in business, I had internships when I did all the, when I worked in the office for the music video directors, I was interning for free. You know, and as an adult now, who has their own business, I always pay people like, unless you’re in high school, but you always get something. You’re, you’re getting it free tap classes, the time there’s a trade. Um, but if you’re an adult and you’re doing something with me, you’re going to get paid because I do value your time. And I am in a place where I tend to pay you. And if I can’t pay you on me, keep it real and be like, look, I can’t pay you. I could feed you. I’ll give you some free dance classes. You want some clothes? I got some clothes in the closet I can help you with. I can help you. And I think again, it’s like, how can I be an asset? And not just a taker from this? Because at the end of the day, if you’re like a up and coming dancer, you are benefiting more from being in a space with Ava than Ava is getting from you. Let’s keep it 100. Like if your up and coming singer, if you get to be in a studio with Beyonce, you’re learning, you know, you’re, you’re getting a masterclass for free. And, and you know, it was like show up early, be the person that’s reliable, be the person that brings great energy to the room. And so I think all of that is what culminates, to being able to book a TV show, being able to book a movie, also know that every choreographer, every choreographer, all the choreographers know each other. And you might be bitter talking a bad about somebody to your fellow dancer. And they might be choreographing the next job. And they’re going to remember like, Ooh, they were talking trash about the choreographer. Don’t want to have them. Cause they might talk trash about me. So it was also like, think about who are your peers, because your peers will be elevating as well  

In a perfect world. And when you surround yourself with peers like you and like Chloe, then yes, absolutely. Oh my God, you just filled mysunshine mug.  

Thank you. If I go back and I see when I pick one up for you,  

Please do, because I have been, I have been told I’ve been called a joy machine. I’ve been called the sun array of such amazing. I’ve always told Chloe. Thank you, Dana. I don’t even know her that well,  Every time we talked to Chloe, I’m always like, yo, tell me this. Would you die without maud? Like what exactly is the dynamic there? Are you one person? Are you a separated thing? Like I have a lot of questions too, about the business and how working with family is a very specific thing. Um, but let’s, I really, truly, I love talking to you. I can talk to you for a very long time. I really, truly, This is part one. I do think having you, um, having you and Chloe back together would be so much fun. It’ll complicate even further or scheduling, but it is worth it. I’m all there. Listen, I will noise. Someone is trying to schedule a thing  

Any, or while we’re on here and looked at me and then quietly walked back up. Got it. Love that.  

I love that she knows. Um, okay, so we’re calling this part one. Um, we’re going to talk more money and more mindset later down the road, but thank you. Thank you so much for these gifts. Um, likewise,  

 No, you’re amazing. And, and just the way that like you two have like looked out for my sister and you know, being on in, in the Heights and all that stuff and I just always find your joy and your kindness and your grounded-ness, you know, like how you said you do the accounts or the only person I know who does that. Um, who’s in our, in our industry. Like I’m definitely not that organized, which is why I use that app. Abel, thank God for that because I don’t have that capacity, but you’re amazing. And I’m so happy that you have this podcast because you’re really helping the next generation of dancers because it is a privilege. It is, we are both in very privileged positions of, you know, being able to text Chloe or a text, Tony Testa or text Jilly and Terry who are all or texts Ava and have a dialogue or Jared Grimes and have this. And a lot of people don’t have that. And, and the industry is a very like mystical, weird kind of ever changing space. And if you’re on the outside of it, it can feel very scary. And then you, and then also people tend to magnify negative. So it’s like, oh, Hollywood is fake. And I’m like, I have some of the most amazing people. I know work in Hollywood. Hollywood’s not fake. You know? And, and I think you’re, you’re kind of pulling back that curtain. So  

Thank you, my friend, I really, really appreciate that. It is my duty and my nature to share. I really think I love people say sharing is caring. And I think that that is true. And if you don’t think that, then you don’t have to listen to my podcast.You don’t have to listen to it and go be alone on your own eyes. Totally fun for me. It’s like when you’re, when you’re selfish, you don’t grow. I believe that like, think about when you, even when you, the act of opening your arms to give a hug, you’re welcome. You’re welcoming so much goodness into the, your ether. You can’t see my arms, but I’m opening my arms and you’re, you’re welcoming. You’re not only, you know, going in for that love with that one person. But you’re pulling in all their other love around you. And it’s like, you can’t hug somebody like this, And this is beautiful. I love this analogy. Let’s close here. You are exposing your soft parts. I had a very, I had a great ballet teacher explained that part of the beauty in ballet and the vulnerability in ballet is that the positioning exposes your soft skin, the inside of the thigh, the side of the neck, the underside of the arms. And when you open to hug someone, you are exposing yourself, but you also are getting bigger. You are actively actually physically growing. When you open to embrace, like when you open to give someone a hug, this is what I’m talking about.  

I’m writing it down, taking notes. Y’all anybody listen to podcasts. I’ve been taking notes. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been taking notes on things  

That’s Chloe forever, stealing the notepads that they give us to judge. And she’s like, it’s still clutching it, writing stuff down. As we’re walking back to our room and you are the same,  

I’m going to quote you on Twitter. What’s going to do you open up to give a hot, you get bigger. You get true. Love makes you big hate makes you small then.  

Sure. The end, the end. Thank you so much. I adore you. I will talk to you very soon. I love you. 

Dana: Well, my friend, what do you think? I think that I would like to apologize for my temper tantrum, my meltdown about quarterly taxes and I vow right here. And right now to solve that riddle for good this year, this is the year I will file quarterly and be confident in my decision to do so. Confident does not mean happy. One point that, um, but I’m going to, I’m going to do that. I’m going to, well, actually take it back. I’m going to either file quarterly confidently or not file quarterly confidently either way. I’m just going to fully commit and be confident in my decision to file quarterly or not. There you have it. I’m just going to do it. Okay. I am super stoked to have both Chloe and Maud weighing back in for Money March this year. And I’m so grateful for mods insights on optimism and the important difference between the bright side and toxic positivity for me, this episode made being the boss of your life. Feel easy and fun. And I hope it did the same for you. Now, if you’ll forgive me, I have some thank you cards to write or better yet. I have to go find someone with lovely handwriting to go write some thank you cards for me. Now. Keep it funky. Y’all I’ll talk to you soon.  

Outro: This podcast was produced by me with the help of many; Music by Max Winnie, logo and brand design by Bree Reetz, and a big thanks to Riley Higgins, our executive assistant and editor, and also massive thanks to you. The mover, who is no stranger to taking action, I will not stand in the way of you taking action. I will not cannot stop you from downloading episodes or leaving a review and a rating. I cannot keep you from visiting thedanawilson.com to join our mailing list. I will not ban you from my online store for spending your hard earned money on the cool merch and awesome programs that await you there. And of course, if you want to talk with me, work with me and make moves with the rest of the words that move me community, I will 100% not stop you. Visit thedanawilson.com to become a member and get a peek at everything else I do that is not a weekly podcast. Keep it funky, everyone.

Ep. #107 The Grammar and Punctuation of BODY LANGUAGE with Liana Blackburn

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #107 The Grammar and Punctuation of BODY LANGUAGE with Liana Blackburn

This episode is a heart-full ride through some of our favorite themes:  purpose, navigation, growth, and creation. Our guest, Liana Blackburn Snarburg dives head first into making and maintaining BIG life changes from diet to lifestyle and career path.  She doesn’t pretend it is easy, but she does have a recipe that works, and she shares it with so much flavor! If you are looking to make big moves (and savoring your LIFE) in 2022, this episode is for you.


January 13th Coaching Call:


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Daily Dancer Diet 



Intro: Welcome to Words That Move Me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you, get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, Dana Wilson, and I move people. I am all about the tools and techniques that empower tomorrow’s leaders to make the work of their dreams and live a full life while doing it. So whether you’re new to the game or transitioning to your next echelon of greatness, you’re in the right place.

Dana: Hello, Hello, my friend. And welcome to words that move me. I’m Dana and Ooh, who, who are you in for a treat today? If you are looking for motivation and a wind for your sales, as they say to set you out at sea on your journey, that is 2022. Mm I have got it for you today. Plus some, I mean, truly like remainder motivation.  

Um, it is truly hard to listen to our guest Liana Blackburn and not get fired up. In fact, during this, uh, interview, I even teared up a couple times, so get ready to feel your feelings. Um, this episode is a heartful ride through some of the biggest themes that we talk about here on the podcast. We talk about purpose navigation, growth creation so much so good, but first, before we get into it, we’re going to do wins as always. We start every episode with wins and today I am celebrating. And some of you may have seen me celebrate this on my Instagram. Uh, today I’m celebrating, being the proud owner of an electric scooter, shout out nine, but, uh, they didn’t pay me to say that, but like, I really love my scooter. Um, and this, this tremendous sense of bad-ass Surrey bombarding around my neighborhood and beyond, uh, with my husband on these scooters.  

That is my, when we used to, we used to joke that we might start a scooter gang someday. And now that joke is funny cause it’s true. Um, and there is a sub win here, a scooter sub when you know me never one when Wilson, that’s what they called me in grade school. I’m kidding. But wouldn’t that be cool anyways? I don’t think I’m going to go into my sub win. Now. I think I’m going to come back to that in another episode because there’s actually quite a lot to dig into with that. Um, so that’s it for me today celebrating my two person scooter gang. Um, now it is your turn hit me. What’s going well in your world.  

Congratulations. I’m so glad you’re winning thrilled for you. Keep it up. All right, now let’s do this. Let’s not drag this out any longer. I am so excited to share this conversation with Leanna because she is a person who loves to share in many ways she shares for a living. And if you do not already know this and love this about her, I think you’re about to so movers and shakers pull up a chair and probably a pen or paper because you’re going to want to take some notes. This is Liana Blackburn. It’s Liana Blackburn Snarberg. Enjoy

Dana:  Holy smokes, Ms. Liana Blackburn. Oh, is this still Blackburn?  

Liana: I am still Blackburn, but I’m also Snarburg

Dana: Blackburn Snarburg. Do you have the hyphen?

I didn’t do the hyphen. I actually got rid of my middle name because I had no attachment to it. I put my maiden last name as my middle name and then took a new last name  

That everyone that is a very creative approach to the name game.  

Yeah. You know what? I kind of had a panic at the disco moment when I was at the courthouse making the decision. I was like, oh my God, I have to make a decision now to like, get rid of my name. And I was really emotional about it and didn’t want to do it. I was like, really? My middle name means nothing to me. So we’re just going to get rid of that.  

Great response to a stressful moment. I love it. So what now? I’m so curious. What was your middle name?  

Kimberly. Kimberly It’s because, because my parents, I have a sister that’s older, she’s four and a half years older. Right. When I was born, she really wanted to name me. She really wanted an Amy Kimberley because Kimberly was her best friend in preschool. Okay. My parents were like, well, she’s not going to be named Kimberly, but we’ll just give the middle name. So it was kind of like, we’ll just make you happy. We’ll give her the middle name. Oh, my sister is friends with Kimberly anymore. Like, it’d be different. It lasted, but she didn’t.

So she really did not have that staying power. And neither did your middle name. So perhaps Kimberly’s are United in that. No offense. Kimberly’s out there. Funny story about names. And then I promise we’ll get on with the episode. Um, I assume because you have a tiny baby, but I could be totally wrong because your baby’s a little bit younger than this, uh, than the target market for this movie. But have you seen frozen to know? Okay, so I have nieces, I have a seven year old niece and a four year old niece. And by the way, when Millie, sorry. When Charlotte was born Millie, her older sister by three years, wanted to name her tulip shop that she was like two, what will the baby’s name be tullip shop? I say Joe PPE, by the way, because she’s got expensive Parisian tastes, I guess. I don’t know. But, um, Coco, Charlotte did not become too of shop. She became Charlotte, but to have shop is the real, if you ask Molly, what  I, you know, what, why do I want to say her middle name is bean? Cause we just call her cocoa bean. Her middle name is not being, I don’t know. Charlotte’s middle name. It might be to look trap. Um, okay. Tulip is the cutest. Okay. I keep discussing wow. Focus in frozen to the funniest. Hands down. The funniest moment is when Olaf is searching for his friends and he’s calling out their names and then he also calls out the name of Samantha, but only nobody’s name is Samantha. And he’s like, I don’t even know someone named Samantha it’s hysterical, but that’s not the point. The point is that I have made this reference to frozen two and Olaf and Samantha in every single mini class that I have taught for the last year. And I always ask, is anyone in the room named Samantha? And zero times has someone raised their hand actually named Samantha, which tells me the amount of research that that team did to find the most obscure name for that age group. Like they found out nobody’s named Samantha. So this is going to be funny to everyone. Cause nobody knows. Nobody knows is Samantha. And I’m like riveted by this. And I have the  Feeling that was a choice. 

Do you really owe think that was a choice 100%?


Now I’m so curious to know like where are the Samantha’s and I mean, I know you’re teaching a class, but still like, there must be some Samantha’s of that demographic age  

A year, my friend a year, seven to 10, zero Samantha’s. So what I do next is that I then tell the mini ballroom that their collective name is Sam, everybody we’re S we’re Sam. All right. And so when I say, all right, Samantha, get on the floor. Everybody gets on the floor. And when I say give it up for this group, everybody’s like work, Samantha, get a Sam. You been at work since it’s history. So nobody’s name is Samantha and everyone’s name is Samantha.  

You know, what’s so special about that moment is now all of a sudden you’ve created this comradery with a group of people who didn’t usually have that. That’s really special. You’re a genius.  

Thank you. I love minis. I really shine in that room because I’m with people. Okay. So that’s me. That’s Samantha, let’s talk about you Leanna, introduce yourself. What would you like us to know about you other than your middle name was Kimberly?  

Hello everybody. My name is Liana Blackburn Snarburg also known as daily dancer diet on the social platforms. Um, I am a new mama as Dana had already referenced of a, almost 13 month old boy named George. And he is the fourth. Yes. I kept the tradition going. Yes. G4 or four or all the things.  

Okay. This is good. This is good.  

There’s a lot of nicknames coming through because it took me seven days or five days to even agree to do the name. Really baby was unnamed for five days. Cause I was like, I don’t know. I don’t know. Okay. And then now it’s like the most beautiful thing I could have done and chosen to do. You know, it was just, I needed that time to sit with that anyway. That’s not my introduction, but um, I am so grateful that dance is my modality through life. Like I’m just so stoked that it’s this thing I found when I was three and it’s this thing I’m doing at 35 and that if somebody were to ask me like, you can do anything you want, you can do anything you want, nobody’s pressuring to do this. No. Like what are you going to choose? And I’m going to say yes to what I’ve been doing. And I’m like, so stoked about that answer because that says a lot about me. Um, so I’m going to just stop it there.  

Dance as your modality, your through-line in life. Um, I think you and I, if the first 20 minutes of our preamble was not a Testament enough, I think you and I have a lot in common. We could talk for days about dance. And honestly, I don’t have much of a structure for this conversation. I’m excited to riff, but, um, one of the things that we, we also share in addition to some really fun gigs in the past, which we could unearth and discuss, um, one of the things that we have in common in addition to gigs, and we were put in dance at an early age and happen to really like it still, um, is this relationship to our voice. And I’m kind of going left like right out the gate, but you have such a distinct voice and I’m remembering, I’ve always known this, but as I’m talking to you right now, I’m like, oh my God, that’s Liana for sure.  And I have had a really interesting relationship to my voice, a lot of ups and downs, as you know, I had vocal cord surgery, uh, last summer to remove a cyst. I’ve been in the healing phases since then. Um, but I remember before I knew I had a assist, which apparently I’ve had for years, you helped me find a vocal coach because you were also working on your voice. Um, and her name is Adele. And I will link to her in the show notes because I had a very good time working with my vocal coach, Adele, who is not the Adele Adele. But could you imagine just like Adele, do you have like 30 minutes to fit me in today to do my,  

Um, she’s it’s like, she’s like, we’re going to start with Hometown Glory today. Good with that.  

Yes. Let’s warm up. Let’s warm up with that. Um, but uh, I would love to hear you talk about your relationship to your voice and that doesn’t necessarily mean like your speaking voice, but your voice as a performer, your voice as a mother, your voice as a mentor, um, how did you find it? What’s your relationship to it? Because this is something I’m very curious about.  

This is such a, a really great question, Dan. 

Thank you. It is broad. I know we’re starting at 30,000 feet, but  

It’s so good. And you know, that the thing it brings me back to it brings me back to dance. I do find a pivotal moment when I was on scholarship at edge. So in 2004 to 2005, I did scholarship program at edge. And after that, I  I remember when I was working behind the desk on the program, that I would see teachers constantly like booking out and there would constantly be showing up to class that we’d have to turn away because the teacher called out late and whatever. And I’m like, I could teach the class. Like I could, we could keep this business. Like I could teach the class. And I constantly was like, oh my God, I was seeing how much need there was for teachers, um, or subsidies. And I remember after scholarship, I really wanted to be teaching and I will never forget bills. Like, so what are you going to, what, what are you,  

What’s your class going to be? You said Jazz.

 And I was like,  Jazz. And he’s like, well, why would, if Mandy Maura was teaching jazz at the same time, you’re teaching jazz. Why would someone take your jazz instead? Like, what are you offering? Basically like my interpretation of that, it’s like, w w what’s your voice? What’s your voice in what you’re offering? Um, he didn’t say it within those words, but at the time I didn’t hear it like that. Of course, I was like, well, that’s well means to me, I’m going to be different. You know, I, I didn’t take it like that, then I didn’t take it like that. But always going back to frozen and winter, you must learn to, with the frozen, the snowflake, um, I w that really sat with me because he forced me to go, like, what are you offering? It’s not the title of the class. It is what you’re bringing to the students that matters. Like, what’s, what’s your value for them? What’s the value for them. And so I didn’t teach for years in LA, but I was continuing to teach around town, like around the states. And back at my home studio, I was teaching. I’ve been teaching forever, but I didn’t teach in LA until I created body language, which is like fast forward, fast forward to, I don’t know, 13 years later, 10 years later, after this fight with bill prudish, like, why won’t you give me a class kind of thing, right. Actually, I’m going to lie. I did start teaching jazz at edge before body language, but it wasn’t like, I didn’t know what I was doing. You know, I was still like, you have enough man. He was in the other room. Like, I wouldn’t feel proud to like, be like, come take mine. He said, Amanda, I’d be like, you should go over there.  

I checked everyone, grab your dance bags, follow me. Here we go.  

Thank you for coming. We’re going to go next door. Um, so I, I want to say that that insert he had within me to like, find my voice was again, chosen to do that through the modality of dance. Like I started with, like, I chose to find my voice through dance. Um, as I’m teaching dance, anyone who’s taken my class in the last couple of years, we’ll know, like, we’re not talking about dance here. Like, we’re never talking about dance in my class. Everybody’s like, these are life lessons. I’m like, yeah, I’m basically teaching like a life class hidden within like us dance lessons or like,  It is the biggest underlying foundation here.  

Yes, it is. It is. And what’s so cool is, you know, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to practice life lessons in a low stakes environment. Great points we’ll have like, okay, so where do I go to like, practice this and not really be judged now, as I’m saying that I’m going to say right away, people are going to say, I feel judged in a dance class. I feel judged in a dance class. That’s not a low stakes environment. And then I ask you, well, who who’s putting that on you, you know? Um, right. And is that, is that an expectation that you’ve done to yourself to show up? Or are you putting yourself in a room where the other side of the, the, the learning is putting that on you? Is that supportive for your environment? I ask so many questions. Like, is that coming from an outside source?  

You know what I mean? So going back to the voice in this it’s like, while I was recognizing within myself that I was ready to move out from performing as being my main goal, when I was like, no, I’m not, I don’t want to continue to have performing be the main thing I’m doing. I was ready to change my relationship with dance, because as I was a performer for so long, I was like, oh, I’m so used to living through other people’s purpose. Like living out other people’s stories, being, being like yes to someone else. I was like, what if I revisit the yes to myself? And actually this goes back to some unexperienced I had with you, Dane. I’ll never forget. You asked me to come with you to the studio at the old millennium, we went upstairs, you were creating choreo for something you put on Audra Mae, may you introduced me to  for the first time. And you were like, no, what? We’re just going to move. And I’m going to say yes to every choice that comes out my body. I’m just going to say yes to what feels right to me. I’ll never forget that. And I was like, this is a great concept. I love that.  

What, again? Dance lessons or life yet lessons. Oh, I almost said life lessons, which is amazing. 

They are life lessons, which let’s be real. There is tremendous power in no, but as a tool, as a creative practice, for sure. Um, in past episodes with the seaweed sisters, when I talk about collaboration, uh, our golden principle is yes. And you say yes and something else. Um, and it’s a really, it’s a fun way to be making. And I remember talking to my agents about this, I had a concept for a dance competition show, and I won’t say much cause it might still happen, but improv was hugely, um, involved. And when I explained it to my agents, my agent was like, wait, yes. Wow. That could be very good for business like that. As a business mentality is others, no ceiling. It just blows the ceiling off of what’s what’s possible. So I love that. So you decided to start saying yes to yourself and start saying, no, thank you to some of these performance opportunities that were coming your way. That was that when BLX was formed or, or so, or daily dancer die, or both  Daily dancer, diet had been introduced. So to give some context, to me, feeling confident enough to approach this, I did have a life change change in 2011. So I’m trying to give a timeline here. So like 2004, 2005, 2006 was my interaction with bill saying like, what would be your class? So I’m like, okay, this, this it’s like, he planted this seed in me that I’m like, okay, when I, if I’m going to teach in LA, like I need to have, what’s the value I’m offering. What’s my voice basically. So performing, performing, performing, learning, listening on set and experience, taking in being the sponge, right. Experience, experience, experience. Then I come to 2011 where I’m also in the middle of experience, but I’m also in like a health crisis where my body, my acne, like all these things, if anybody’s been like, I’ve talked about it before, I won’t go into that here.  Cause you can find me talking about that anywhere. Like I will be sure to link, to link to some of your other talks first, right? Acne. Like I, as a dancer, my body is like, you know what, what it looks like is so much a part of what I’m presenting and like how I’m presenting me, even to myself, how I feel. And I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror anyway, I went through such a shift of going, oh, I have control over, changing what I put my body. Oh, I have control over how I think, oh, I have control. And like, literally just in 2011 was like kick a cut, like went balls to the wall and just changed everything with my diet. It started with my diet. And then it’s like one of those things, the more you learn about something that it just like spirals into all these other avenues.  So it’s like toxicity, all these things. So that started in 2011. So I was on this like, um, holistic life change in 2011, few years later, everybody’s like, what are you doing? What are you doing that birthday lead answered? I had to just give answers to people constantly asking, like, why is it, why are you so different than you were before? What, why you’re eating? Why are you doing that? And there’s so much societal pressure of like change that I wanted. I wanted to use Instagram as like, this is what you can see to see why I’m doing and why. And I was like filtering my experience through that. Um, and then over time, that changed as well. So my voice was curated by so many different spaces. It was like me putting myself first with my health first that’s what really CA was the catapult, um, recognizing what self-care actually was, what self love actually was putting myself first like that for an, and seeing how that I was confronted socially by that constantly, like there was so much pressure and why I was doing things.  

And it was like, because I’m putting myself first and it was like that the social pressure was the hardest of it all. And anytime I talk, could you give an example real quick? Like, can you recall anyone that knew me knew I would eat French fries knew I would love fried food, knew I love dessert. And if I was going out and not doing the things they saw me that I used to do, it was like something was wrong or I had, or, or I made them feel if they wanted those things. I made them feel bad for wanting those things. Or if we used to have a bond with those things, and now I didn’t want that anymore. Right. It like totally took a riff and all these social spaces that I was like, whoa, I was not expecting this to be the hardest part of it all. And anyone else, that’s going through a change socially. I’m like, we need to talk about this because that’s where they’re feeling the most pushback. So,  

And that’s why it’s probably a huge reason why big changes like that are so difficult for so many people who are like socially woven into big, big baskets, big social baskets. Like we are like life on tour. You, you are literally eat, sleep, breathe, work, play with the same group of people. So having, you know, changing yourself in a time like that is like, you’re, you’re changing the fibers of the group basket, but I love this notion that, um, that, that be the hardest part because in some ways it’s hard because you’re taking responsibility for other people and the way they’re feeling versus letting them feel their way about that. And being okay with that, which I’m sure is where you landed eventually, because you can’t eat to please other people you can’t drink to please other people, if you did, you would be eating and then not eating the same food you would be drinking and then not drinking. You would be like, if you’re doing all of those things to fit in with the group, you’re in Wowza tough times. I’m not saying you were by the way, but if that’s like, they are so ingrained in our world as being social things, eating and drinking or social behaviors versus what they actually are, is sustenance for our human lives. But yeah, we’re so trained to think that it’s just what, it’s what we do socially. Sorry. That was a sidestep unimportant.  

So important. What you’re saying is so important because my, my daily, I shifted my consciousness to being like, so aware of all these things that I was so alert to when in my past I was saying yes to things that I didn’t want because of the social norm or because it just felt more comfortable not to say no. I was just like, wow, wow. Because when I say, no, I’m confronted with this, I’m confronted with this. Like why, but why I’m confronted with like defending myself.  

Okay. And when you have a strong, why that’s not a problem.  

Exactly. Exactly. And that is the point that we can talk about voice for the rest of this call. But I’m like trying to find the I’m like, how can we button this up? That is where the voice finder is. Like, when you have a, why? When I found my, why the diff I didn’t need to defend myself. I didn’t need to even have to answer everybody’s question. I felt comfortable. And just like knowing, well, I have a purpose here and you don’t eat in it. You don’t need to agree with it. And then that cat had a bolted in not only the way I was eating and drinking, it transitioned into how I created what I did with body language, me, creating body language, meaning moves with the business, me making choices, like through everything like that. One shift of purpose and why that started with my health and my love for myself and my value in my, my like happiness and my health longterm not short changed my voice for everything else. And it gave me the permission to be like, oh, if I just have an intention and if I have a purpose and I have meaning that like cannot be pushed over easily or at all, then I can, my voice like sings. It sings.  

He, ah, that is so powerful. I love that. I love that. You found your why me teach jazz? Why me eat this way? Why me not eat that way? Why me drink? Why me not drink? Why me tour? Why me not tour? Like this is it. And I love that everyone will get their own answer to that question. Um, I, something that I think I catch, cause I’m a big, like, I love to know my why I love. Cause I know things will get hard cause I want to do hard things. And I know when things get hard, I want to return to my why. So I like to have a solid why. And sometimes when I’m preparing for that, I catch myself. Like, because it feels good or like, because I want it or like I get, I can be kind of bitchy with myself in the defining the why moment and what I would encourage you all is to like anybody who’s listening. Who’s like, oh yeah, I should probably give myself away. Ask yourself why in the same way a five-year-old child would ask you why, which is over and over and over again. And you’ll say like, because it feels good and they’ll say, why does it feel good? And you’ll say, Hmm, why does it feels good? Because I think that this, or because it seems like this. And so if you, Y enough you will like, from a place of love too, like a little kid, just like why. Okay. Well, why, well then why that? And like why that you can get to a deep place of knowing that is like, yes, that’s the source of the voice killer. Okay. Love it.  

I think it’s such a like clear thing of what you just said is from a place of curious, like from a place of curiosity, because a little kid there can feel like  

 I’m not going to lie. Sometimes little kids really are just trying to annoy you, but yeah. From a place of curiosity versus like innocent questioning or, or suspicion or like interrogation, it’s not that it’s like, I am so curious. What is at the bottom of that? What’s on the side of that. What’s in front of that. How does that really, like, how much does that weigh? How much, what does that feel like? Yeah. I mean ask all the questions.  

Yes. And I think it’s so it’s so important to know how to ask the questions. Cause even like, when I hear you choose a question in the podcasts, I’m like, oh, that’s a good question. So it’s not only about ask, just ask why it’s like, how you’re choosing to do that for yourself. Because I know that sometimes when I’m taking like in advice from someone else, it seems like, oh, they really, they really do that. And so I want that what that other person does. And then I have this expectation of what’s going to what I need to get from the questioning. And so it’s like, can I release, can I release any expectation and just have an innocent curiosity within it?  

Oh, what a way to be. Yes. Um, as you’re talking, I’m thinking about it’s, it’s one of my favorite trades confusion for curiosity, whenever I’m feeling confused, it’s very disempowered position and it almost always leads to inaction. When I feel confused, I sit right where I am in all my confusion and I will scroll or I will like completely buffer that feeling way. Cause I am a person who likes feeling capable and in the know, and I like feeling like I have a voice, a why, and when I feel like I don’t, when you feel like you don’t understand, um, I, I don’t feel like me and I feel stifled and small and trading confusion for curiosity is my favorite way to, to move from that space emphasis on move. Because when you are feeling curious, you go, you seek. And so, yeah. I’m glad you underlined that. That’s huge. Um, okay. Now I am curious about something because you’ve mentioned now B LX, you are still very active on social platforms with daily dancer diet. You’re making recipes, you’re talking specifically about travel and lifestyle now specifically about being a mother as well. You are a mom Leanna, which I just am so glad people like you are having babes. It’s really great news. Um, and George, I will wrap him up into that too. Hi, George George, the third. Um, but, uh, I let’s see, I am a person who loves a full life. I love to be doing the things, love to be feeling the feelings I have flirted with straight up burnout. So many times, because in my, in my view of the world, you have to be able to do everything. You have to have a side business and be touring and be auditioning and still be in class and have a podcast and an end. And I’m just like, oh, I know that that’s 100% in my mind, but ma, and maybe you can help me readjust my perspective here. But when I look at you, I’m like, whoa, Lianais doing everything. She is being a mom. She is being a mentor. She is facilitating classes and learning environments for people on the come up, which is another area where we are in alignment. Um, you are every day having to prepare your food for your life. George’s food for George’s life. You own a home, you are doing all the things. How do you stay organized? What are the thoughts that keep you from overwhelm? Um, do you have a team? Do you have tools? What is it that keeps your many, many things together? As I hear are going to be like, Dana, I’m a shit storm. I am a mess. I asked my CPA. I mean,  

Yes. And so as I hear you saying these, these very kind outside perspectives on myself and my life,  

Isn’t it funny. That’s how, how we look from the outside.  

I’ve been taking it in and saying like, you know, that’s pretty amazing that I’ve been able to, you know, um, do all those things. Like, as you’re saying that I could easily just be like, thank you for seeing me in that way, but I’m, I’m, I’m working on receiving. And so I’m going to even just take them on and be like, I have done those things and like, I’m receiving it. It’s like, wow, that’s really cool that I’m doing those things. And yes. And I have stopped a lot of those things as I’ve introduced motherhood. Not for, I should say I’ve paused those things because there’s a difference between stopping and pausing. There is also, I can stop and restart. Like I, nobody can tell me what I have to do, but I have definitely paused. So I have not been as active on social platforms and the last, well, probably at least six months, I have given myself so much grace to say like this, I have discovered a new, um, priority, which is my, um, motherhood.  

And I am going to gracefully navigate how I want to weave this into my basket of things. But right now I will not know that until I commit to this new experience. So I’m a wreck. I recognize that my past I’ve been able to so fully commit myself into whatever I’ve done, because I haven’t had anything else. Even being married. I’ve never felt this like pull that my husband is preventing me from committing to something I want to do. Right. He’s been such a supporter. So I’ve been like, yeah, yeah. I’m going to like do the thing for me and do the thing for me in that thing. And now it’s like, that is not the same thing. When I have a child, there’s not just like, I just get to do this thing for me. Right. This is just like, so we have a new factor.  

We’re going to have a fully new element in the equation.  

Yes. So before I get really upset and angry, that things are different before I get really upset that I can’t do dot, dot, dot. I’m going to fully commit to this new thing I’ve never done before and feel like wildly perp, wildly alive and wildly afraid. And like, why, like the level in which I’m fi I’m somebody who loves to feel. And I’m like, okay, thank you for giving me an opportunity to feel at a capacity in which I feel  

Right. Right. And like dialed up to 12th. Yes.  

1200. It feels crazy. The amount that I’m able to feel so many things. So while yes, I have done all the things you’ve said Dane, in the midst of committing to motherhood while yes. I’ve maintained things. I’ve heard you say before, I’ve heard you even say to my mentorship, like given okay. To like see plus work. And so as I’ve, which has been such a wonderful, like permission slip, because I have not been able to do that for myself before being pregnant. I’ve been like eight plus eight plus on all the things. And now I’m like, okay, what if it’s like a plus on motherhood and like C plus on like maintaining certain things  

On chiming in, on Instagram for like 100%, take the above average on that and run with it.  

No, it’s crazy about that Dan. Like I miss that. What’s so cool about pressing pause is seeing the things that I really miss and being able to let go of the things that like I don’t miss and I miss engaged on Instagram. I miss creating on Instagram. I miss social platforms. I miss my community and I’m like, oh my gosh, I really value this place. And you know, I felt before I valued Instagram and social platforms and online community before I did, I’ve always had a really, really positive relationship with it. And I still do. Um, so yes, I am still really active on a lot of things that I started, like my mentorship, like I’ve said like that to me, it was like, I’m not stopping. This is so valuable for my life, for the women’s life that I’ve been working with. Um, or for any soul that’s been connected with me. And I’ve said yes, to continuing my business. I have body language tutorials online. I’ve said yes to continuing maintaining things. I put in place. That being said, I’m so happy that before I chose to get pregnant, I experimented so many times I experimented with all new things, with health, with business avenues, with relationships, I was able to try on things and commit to so many things that while I was, when I got pregnant and when I’m now I’m a mother I’m able to go like, wow, I’ve really practice a lot of these other skills that I know how to pull from quickly without being like, oh, I need to experiment on a new thing. Like, how do I juggle? So I’m really grateful for the years I spent experiencing and experimenting before being a mother. Um, so that now I’m like, okay, I’m going to keep this thing. I know I have that skill and I’m okay that I’ve let go of it for awhile. I can pick it back up again. It’s like, I have all these skills that I can choose when I’m wanting to work on them. Um, I have a team I’ve also been able to go yes. To help. Yes. If mother taught me anything more than being like, I’m so quick to be able to ask for support now more than I ever was, yes, I need help. Yes. I feel depleted. Yes. I feel exhausted. Those were the type of things I didn’t value before. Um, so I’ve been able to cultivate, hiring people for things that I don’t, I don’t have them to bring me, I’ve been able to do that. Like I have like, oh my gosh, I have like five people that are doing things for me that I’m able to like, and, and, and, you know, what’s cool about that is it’s people that value that thing and it brings joy to them. So not only I’m recognizing that I’m able to give someone else value and something they love to do, but you’re sharing you’re distributing. Whereas before I felt like, oh, this is just a me thing. Like, it’s just a me thing. I’m like, actually, no, there’s like, I’m able to offer more to somebody of some of the things that they love. So yeah. I’ve been able to bring on board people to help facilitate things, um, that bring more value to them than they had for me on like the day to day stuff, which then brings me to the place where I have more, that, that I know I can bring more value and I’ve felt this immense, like as a creator, as like somebody who’s really worked on facilitating creative visions, I have felt terrified as a new mom to go. Like, I, I it’s been really, like, there’s so many things. There’s so many things in my mind that like have this volt now that volt is like growing and growing and growing. And there’s nothing that’s ever like coming out of the vault. It’s just like the vault is building and it’s building it’s building. And then I’ve just been able to practice the constant recognition of like the creation of my life, not the creation of like this idea that I have, or this business idea that I have, or this concept video that I have. Like, those are still valuable, but I’m able to know like find the value in the creation of my life. You’ve done this. You help people practice this, you know, it’s so well, the listeners know it’s so well yet. It’s not always easily. Uh placable When, you know, when you have the choice. Um, and not to, I say, I don’t have choice now, but I’ve chosen where I’m at. I’ve chosen to focus on the creation of my life as being the purpose and not the creation of like something that has to be, um, a product  

Yeah. Or work period. I mean, I think when we, I know this is something I’m intimately faced with right now, I would jump at the opportunity to work way before I jumped at the opportunity to be with myself and just be with myself. I would rather be editing a podcast episode or scheduling a podcast episode or taking somebody’s class or editing a video or choreographing something. I would like, I have gotten so much purpose and reward and fulfillment from work. That it is my default. And I’m so glad I’m hearing you say these words right now. Life requires craftsmanship, just like our work does. And if we shove it off to the side to favor work, then we will find ourselves at 60. When most people are retiring, um, to live a life with no outside interests, no outside life to live. What, what is beyond work?  

What is, what is out there in the great abyss, especially for people who love their work so much, like it’s tough, right? Because when I’m working, I am feel capable. I feel in charge, I feel free. I feel useful. I feel unique. I feel all these wonderful things. And the thing that’s important to remember is that I’m saying this to myself, um, is that it’s not the work that makes me feel those things. It’s thinking this is meant to be I’m in the right spot. I’m doing it right. I’m doing my best. I am good. I am getting better. And if I can just adopt that way of thinking over there into non-work life, I’m doing my best. I’m getting better. I am seeking. I am learning then. Oh my gosh. Outside life is like the most fun thing. But when I’m out there in the outside life, thinking I should be working, I should be danced.  

I should be trying to make my, I should’ve said yes to that gig. I shouldn’t. It can, that’s it. Whoa, really a hard thing to endure is this, this life that’s thinking you should always be doing something else. So I applaud you in your commitment to crafting your life and to accepting pause mode. Or you said something else that I was really struck by maintenance, like maintenance mode, not every toggle of every part of your life needs to be in the advance position or achievement, like high achieve mode. I’m imagining, by the way, like, I always do myself in this cockpit and I’ve got all these sliders and buttons and levers and things, and it’s like, totally okay. For a few of those switches to be an auto, that’s an autopilot, that’s an autopilot I’m going to like, definitely keep my close eye on this gauge because it’s really important to me right now. And I’m going to slide this up to advanced mode and that’s going to go into pause and I’m going to ask somebody else to come in and do that. It just makes so much sense. Um, but I  

Love the analogy because you also have the copilot.  

Absolutely. And we do, this is another thing I’m face-to-face with because you and I both have brilliant and loving partners. And that is not true for everyone all the time. It is a gift and it is, uh, such a it’s, it’s an awesome other part of my life. But I think like if I did not have Daniel, that doesn’t mean I’m alone. You know, not having a partner doesn’t mean you don’t have a copilot it’s might seem like a really, really super cheesy cop-out, but go with me here. What if my copilot was also me, but me 10 years in the future and I can look at them and be like, Hey, what did you decide when we, when you were setting this lever and you were like, trying to figure out that, how did you do that? And they’re going to be like, oh yeah, it is a visitor. And you could just put future self right next to you. Or you could put like little child self next to you and they can be full of wonder. And they can be like, curious and like, come on. This is what we get. We’re not alone.  

I love that so much. It’s not cheeseball I know. I love it so much. I love it so much. Even before you said before, I didn’t know where you were going when you said that. Right. So you started and when to be clear, when I said copilot, I was not referring to my husband, I was just referring to support. And one seat to me, copilot means like anyone I’m choosing in the moment for support. Um, and so that can be anything, but then you went straight into the part and I was like, yeah. I mean, gosh he’s. So my copilot, my main copilot right now, but also I have all these other co-pilots that I call on. And then when you, and then when you dove into like the other co-pilot, I was like, where’s this going to go? And then when you brought up the younger self, that higher self, I was like, yeah, hallelujah, because it’s such a real other relationship. It might like, you’re like, it’s feasible, but it’s like a completely different relationship. It’s a completely different set of experience. Like it really, it really is a different relationships. So I really liked that you brought that in, but I also did want to highlight how a co-pilot is in my eyes. Literally anyone that I feel trusts me, values me, respects me. That wants to support me. Um, so,  

Mm, love this. Well, I think, yeah, I’m, I’m working to be, you know, as I always have my listeners in mind and by the way, I’m in my podcast booth that my husband built me and I have pictures up behind where my computer is sitting right now. So that even when I’m doing solo episodes, I’m never talking to myself. Like I try to keep an audience. And I’m always thinking about the different types of listeners who are not married and who might hear this episode. And if we hadn’t gotten into that, they might say, well, that’s not me. I don’t have a person, but you do have a person. You always, always will at least have your current self, your past self and your future self. Um, and I think that they’re all three very helpful. Um, okay. So I cried once already in this episode. That’s great. Good. Let’s see if we can get number two. Um, one of your primary focuses in BLX, and I don’t mean to like mission statement your organization, but it seems, it seems to be from the outside, looking in, um, empowerment through knowing yourself and honoring yourself in the frame of whatever someone else has built. It’s a piece of choreography, but you nurture individuality. You nurture emotionality. You nurture too, at least from the outside, looking in huge, tremendous range of yeah. Of uniqueness of individuality. And it doesn’t just mean different types of people from different types of places. It means different ways of feeling. It means different ways of moving. It means different ways of expressing. And so I’m really interested in that. Um, for a long time I had a I’ll call it beef. Like I had some mental blocks around dancing, sexy. I didn’t kind of like you and bill, how he was like, well, what’s different about you.  

I, whenever anybody was like, okay, well he put your heels on. It was like, I don’t have to, or I like shouldn’t have to. I think it’s sexy to dance like a boy, or I think it’s more fun to dance harder. I don’t think dancing light and soft is cool. It’s too fluffy. It’s not, it won’t last it’s. I don’t want to be objectified. I don’t, you know, all these young person thoughts, which are super valid, but, um, I think many of them were in place of answering the question for myself. What is sexy? What is sensual? What is attractive to me? And now I’ve been able to spend some more time with those questions and answer them for myself. But I would love to hear how you answer those questions for you and what you encourage in your, um, in the people that train with you, how to find your sexy how’d you find your central And I love so many of the word choices you used first. I want to say body language. So when you see, when you’re saying BLX it’s body language experience, it’s my intensive that I created. That’s like really intense.  

 Okay. So body language BLX are fully different things,  

Right. So body language is my class body language experience PLX is my intensive is the that’s like, okay. It’s like, oh, I want, I like this. I like your body language intention. And I want to like dive into this more. Um, so that’s PLX is actually my intensive. So, um, when I started training with Tracy Philips to be in show, right when I was just like, oh, there’s this sexy dance show. It’s like, kind of like a burlesque show, but like not, I w I remember seeing this show at Harville’s and Santa Monica and many, many, many years ago being like, oh my gosh, the power that these women have, I, if I could ever be on that stage, I don’t even know what I would do. Whatever. Fast forward to I’m in a room with Tracy Phillips on auditioning for the show fast forward to, she hires me for the show fast forward to we’re in rehearsals.  And I’m recognizing that she’s highlighting, there is a way to not be the object, but to show as the subject. And so that you even said that alone, like, I don’t want to be objectified all these things and this frame of mind of like, okay, well then what’s my subject matter. Go again. Like, what, what am I here? What is my subject? What am I teaching? What am I sharing? What’s my voice. Again, it goes back to my voice instead of this idea that like, oh, my body is all that is needed here. My external is all that’s needed here. The, the physical body is part of the expression, but it’s not all there is. It’s why my physical body is moving as what really matters. So, man,  

In that show, it’s like the least of which there’s so much imagination. There’s so much wonder. There’s so much like raw energy that is kind of blinding in some cases where I’m like, I didn’t, I can’t recall what you were wearing. I actually don’t remember what you were in that show because of everything else was like, just so Loud. I know, but  The imagination, the command, the creativity, it is shit.  

But as my younger self was beginning to be a part of it, I remember my focus was like, oh, this is what I’m wearing. This is so tiny. Can I wear a bra under this? She’s like, no, I’m like, but my boobs are going to, my boobs are bigger. And like, they’re not perky. And like an, and they’re going to move, like, I’m doing all this. They’re just going to be distracting. And like, I’m not going to be comfortable with like the amount that I learned about my insecurities through that process was profound. And being able to be like, he was like, no, you’re going to be, you you’re enough. Like you are as you are like she, so I called out from the show once because of my acne. Cause I was like, I can’t show up to this show because physically I’m not in this place, which then mentally puts me not in this place. And Tracy called me and she was like, she let me have it. She was like, your perception of your imperfections are your power. Like you showing up, you showing up with all of whatever you perceive as your imperfections is the whole point of what we’re doing. That is your power. Trey was like, this is like, she was basically like, who would you be without that? Like the artist you are is because of that. Like, that’s like, you are you like, you imagine you wouldn’t have your same power without those insecurities. So she was like, so beautiful.  

 And we just got duped, which has got duped into thinking that everyone we see performing as perfect without realizing that the actual reason we think they’re perfect is because they’re showing up with all shit  

Owning it. Yes, yes, yes. Yes.  

In most cases, I think there are a lot of cases where people are fully not owning their shit and hiding it and doing okay for now. But there will come a point when the power that you wield is far greater when you’re using all of it, strengths and weaknesses together. And we’ll say weaknesses just for less, less than, I don’t know, less than perfect qualities

And securities is what I keep thinking. Like things that I feel less than about myself or things that I want to hide or things that I don’t feel are valuable. Things that I haven’t perceived as having value to me until they do. And I’m like, oh my gosh, there was so much purpose there for me in these insecurities or in these, um, in these defaults, you know, I might’ve thought of them that way before, um, back to the sexy. So, so much of, of her teaching me and living through that experience was how I developed my voice and how I found what my sexy was. And then body language has created with the knee. I felt this void of, I wanted more opportunities to show up that way. And so I created body language to fill this gap of like, gosh, all these other dance shops I’m doing. I don’t feel like I have the opportunity to show up the way I want to. So I’m going to use my voice to practice that, which is practicing also my sexy, but prep to me, sexy is commitment. That’s my phrase. Commitment is sexy. So I might be like, yeah, I want to go feel sexy. But like, really I want to commit to myself.  

You want to feel all I want to commit.  

That’s it. And to me, that is the answer to sexy. So it doesn’t matter what I look like. Doesn’t matter whether I’m wearing a healer. The only reason why, the only reason why I practice this space in a heel is because it’s the most, it’s the most on, it’s not been given the opportunity to be seen as anything different than this. Like one, one thing like, yeah, like it really hasn’t. It has been, of course there’s caveats to that. But like there is a compartment that lives in us. That’s been put there through the court from historical, whatever, from media, there is a compartment you  

There is a compartment that BLX lives that has like confinements to it. And I’m like, we’re breaking those refinements here in this space. And that’s what body language is. And so I’m doing it in a heel because it’s the most obvious place that, that we get to confront, but it goes off all other sides of it. But like, so commitment is sexy. If I’m like, I want to practice finding my sexy it’s I want to practice fully committing to myself or fully committing dot, dot, dot whether it’s fully committing to how I want to have a relationship with my husband fully committing to like living my truth in this moment. Like that’s where the sexy lives is. Commitment, complete commitment.  

I love that answer. I love that answer. And is I laughed as you were talking about that, because I was thinking about all of the headshots that I have taken of me and all of the headshots that have crossed my desk now that I’m in more positions of being the one that is casting people of people trying to be sexy and really missing the mark because of exactly that commitment isn’t there because there’s a part of the mind or the body, or probably both. That’s thinking I’m not this, this isn’t right. This feels bad. Who’s going to look. I like there. So, oh my God. I would really, I wish that my younger self had those words before I got all of my sexy video girl head shots taken. And I hope that everyone listening now can head into those moments, which honestly we could debate back and forth about whether headshots are important or not.  I still think they are maybe, maybe second now to your Instagram presence, but that’s the same thing. Imagine that what I’m saying is the same thing. If you think you need to post you being sexy on Instagram and you are not fully committed to thinking and feeling sexy, then you are missing the mark. And it is painful to look at. It is awkward. It does not, it does not achieve the goal. So I think it’s a very simple metric commitment. Like you can be all in or you can be any degrees less than that. And we can tell  

Clear to me, the more I teach when like someone is trying to do something as opposed to owning what they are or owning what they’re doing, they’re the trying and the, or the hiding or the thinking someone’s not going to know or like thinking it can be fooled. It’s just not, it just, it doesn’t happen. So if I could be like, wow, I can’t actually hide. If I’m choosing to be in the public eye, if I’m choosing to take my pants into a room with other people, I am choosing to have outside interpretations of myself, I am choosing to have perspectives from other people. I’m, that’s a choice that I have that I get do. Right? So choose this. Yes. This, because I can be the best answer in the world and not have to choose to do it in front of everybody. And that doesn’t matter. Right. I’m choosing, okay, I’m going to do this in front of people. I’m actually also going to choose to have people choose me for money, like as a whole thing. Right. So if I’m opening my idea to like, I’ve chosen to get outside opinion about myself, my body, my skills, my talent.  

here’s no hiding. There is no hiding. They will see me. They will see all of me at all times. They will see my fears. They will see my insecurities just like Tracy saw my insecurities, but didn’t see them as insecurities. I did. She saw them as my power because I was owning them until that moment that I was like, I’m out. I can’t own it right now. And she’s like, you been owning it. This is your power. And I was like, thank you for my recharge. Even though I still didn’t go in that night. Cause I wasn’t ready to recharge. Well, let’s be honest. You let that land, let her know that our whole 24 hours that I didn’t go back to the show, you know, at the end all, you know, so what I want to say also about what you’re saying is like, there is a commitment you can be fully committed, but have intentions that don’t serve you.  

And the intention also matters to the commitment. So if my intention is just to be fully committed, to being sexy, because this is going to get me a job or I’m going to be fully committed to being sexy because this is what I have to do or I’m going to be full. This is what gets me, attention, attention, whatever the commitment is, not the only part, the intention before the commitment matters. The most like I have phrasing in body language and like the, the, the, the, um, the S in which the phrasing is said matter. So it starts with intention, not attention. That’s the very first thing. That’s the focus intention, not attention. And then the second thing we’ve already really talked about this, but clarity is confidence. So you were even saying earlier about like, when I’m confused, I’m I don’t feel powerful. Like, to me, that’s my version of clarity is confidence. So when I’m clear, I’m confident so that I don’t try to be confident. I work on getting clear and confidence and natural result of that. So tension, clarity, and then comes commitment. So without tension, without the purpose, without the clarity of the why and the, what, you know, like what my reasoning for it is, the commitment can get very misunderstood. And the commitment could also be very, um, could take you in the pudding. What’d you say? I said  

Off putting, it  

Could be off-putting or it could be inputting into the wrong areas that you actually weren’t desiring in the first place. It could take you into avenues that you really didn’t want to go. You just thought you should do because dot, dot, dot. So I do want to just say that, of course commitment. Yes. But that to me is the last part of the puzzle, all the other pieces before, about the why I’m doing this, about the, how I’m choosing to do this, about the purpose, about how, what I’m doing here comes first. And then it’s like, all right, once I have intention, once I’m clear on that, now I’ll come in.  

Yeah. That sets the shape that sets the trajectory. You have a starting point and then the, the middle point, and then you have to, to create the shape of this line to drive to land. Yeah. You need that third point. That’s awesome. Thank you so much for sharing that. Absolutely brilliant. I hope that everyone runs at full speed, um, safely to sign up for future body language classes and BLS programs. You are just such a gift. Thank you so much for sharing with us today. And always, always out there sharing, even, even when you’re in maintenance mode, you are contributing a great deal to this community, the dance community. So thank you. Thank you for all of it. You’re such a great example of, of, of, of doing it and doing it with intention, doing it with kindness, curiosity as well, and also a good giggle. Really good laugh. God, I love it.  

Thanks, Dana.  

so good. So welcome my friend. We’ll do this again sometime. How about that? Yes, please. Okay. And so next time take care of my friend.  


All right. My friend, what do you think? What do you feel there’s so much to, to dig into here? Um, and still much to talk about. I could talk to Liana forever. Um, but a big takeaway here for me today is this difference between stopping and pausing, the notion that not every compartment, not every subject of your life needs an a plus for effort. I’ll take a C plus my friend still above average for the record. Um, but man, oh man, I work with so many people, clients, friends, coworkers on burnout, and the feeling that something ultimately is going to have to give. And the greatest solution to that feeling is simply remembering that not every one of our settings needs to be in kill mode. We can be in maintenance mode. We can always be in breathe mode, breathe. Holy smokes, such a good reminder and breath and voice are bound.  

I love how much Liana talked about voice and it’s reminding me to continue to work on mine. Um, I do also so love this imagery of the cockpit of your life, with all these levers and buttons and dials to adjust. And of course, a copilot that might be younger, you with all that childlike, enthusiasm and curiosity, or it might be the future. You who’s already figured it out or possibly a partner, a collaborator, a friend, family member, man, call me crazy. But my imagination goes ham with this, with this visualization. And as a result, usually I wind up getting off my butt and taking action, like metaphorically I fly. So I hope that thought is helpful for you. And if it isn’t or even if it is, I have something else that is helpful, a free career coaching call tomorrow. If you’re listening to this on the day of its release, tomorrow is January 13th and I will be hosting a free career coaching call at 11:00 AM Pacific that’s 2:00 PM Eastern, totally free and totally open to all people, even those not registered members of the words that move me community.  

Speaker 0    01:09:56    So if you are curious about what career coaching even is like, what does it look and sound like to coach with me? Get in there. It is not too late to register, but you do need to register in order to receive the login info. So visit theDanawilson.com/work with me all one word, work with me, Work with me to sign up and, uh, get the login info. I, so look forward to seeing you and talking like with you who the best, um, if you happen to have missed that date already fear not I’ll be doing this sort of thing a lot. Um, just be sure that you are on my mailing list so that you get updates about calls. Uh, you joined the mailing list by visiting the website. Again, the Dana wilson.com scroll all the way to the bottom. It says, keep it funky. And you enter your email address there. You will be added to our mailing list. Amazing. Um, okay. I think that is it for me today. My friend, thank you so much for being here. I appreciate ya. I think the world of you, I hope you get out there and keep it funky. I’ll talk to you soon.  

Outro: This podcast was produced by me with the help of many; Music by Max Winnie, logo and brand design by Bree Reetz, and a big thanks to Riley Higgins, our executive assistant and editor, and also massive thanks to you. The mover, who is no stranger to taking action, I will not stand in the way of you taking action. I will not cannot stop you from downloading episodes or leaving a review and a rating. I cannot keep you from visiting thedanawilson.com to join our mailing list. I will not ban you from my online store for spending your hard earned money on the cool merch and awesome programs that await you there. And of course, if you want to talk with me, work with me and make moves with the rest of the words that move me community, I will 100% not stop you. Visit thedanawilson.com to become a member and get a peek at everything else I do that is not a weekly podcast. Keep it funky, everyone.

Ep. #106 Ants: A Very Important Metaphor

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #106 Ants: A Very Important Metaphor

If you like insects, you’ll LOVE this episode.  Also if you like a good perspective shift to start the year off strong you will love this episode 😉  Real short and sweet, and REAL helpful: today I am talking about all of the ways we are smart, strong, and destructive. Just like ants! But also NOT like ants at all.


FREE Coaching Call January 13th 2021:

Register Here: https://thedanawilson.com/workwithme

Doing Daily Episode Playlist:

Ep #72. Does Dance Save Lives? w/ Dr. Adrienne Wilson Mann 

Vox Article: https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/5/29/17386112/all-life-on-earth-chart-weight-plants-animals-pnas


Intro: Welcome to Words That Move Me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you, get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, Dana Wilson, and I move people. I am all about the tools and techniques that empower tomorrow’s leaders to make the work of their dreams and live a full life while doing it. So whether you’re new to the game or transitioning to your next echelon of greatness, you’re in the right place.

Dana: Hello. Hello and welcome. Welcome back. Long-time listener and hello, hello newcomers. I’m Dana and this is season three. This is 2022. Holy smoker roni’s. Wow. Um, I hope you had a fabulous holiday season and I hope you are, as I’m going to go with sensibly hopeful. If that’s the thing maybe responsibly hopeful for the year ahead is I am, uh, it was an unusual holiday season for me, but let me tell you what I received some serious gifts and I am dying to share one of them with you right now and right here at the top of the year.  

Um, so let’s do this, but first let’s do wins. We start every episode here with wins, because I think it’s important to celebrate the things that are going well, no matter how big or how small and today I’m celebrating a relatively small win. I think, I don’t know. You tell me today, I’m celebrating being back on that Peloton seven day streak of exercising, um, seven days in a row of rides and I’m feeling good about it. Actively excited to get on the bike. And last week I even did two rides in one day. And that type of pleasure from exercise does not come often or naturally for me. So I’m celebrating it and I’m choosing to it in hopes that that feeling might stick around for awhile. So that’s me. Uh, now you go, what’s going well in your world. What are you celebrating?  

Congrats, my friend, and keep on winning. I’m proud of you. You got this now, usually my first episode of every season and by every season, I mean the first two seasons, usually my first episode is about what call doing daily. Doing daily to me is the daily creative challenge that I took on. Um, back in 2014, it is the project that changed my life more than any other project. If, if you want to hear more about doing daily, or if you want a deeper dive on doing daily, I have a doing daily podcast playlist on my YouTube channel. Every episode from the podcast that even mentions doing daily goes into that playlist. Um, it is all there for you. And now it is in the show notes of this episode. So if you want to hear more specifically about that project, head on over to YouTube, check out the doing daily playlist, uh, enjoy that, but I will not be talking about doing daily today, not directly anyways.  

Um, I’ll get to why a little bit later, but let’s get into this. Okay. My sister, who is a physician and a coach and a mother and many, many splendid things, oh and she’s also a podcast guest by the way, way back in season two, which was literally one episode ago, uh, she is episode 72 and she is a gift period. But over the break, she gifted me this thought, uh, one night when, when she and I were feeling, especially at odds with our ultimate lack of control over the entire world and all of the people in it. Um, she gifted me this thought and the thought is that we are all ants. Yep. And it’s not, aunt’s not auntie like I am the auntie or aunt of her two daughters, but ants, as in the insects, we are all small. We are all in consequential. We busy ourselves all day, every day. And at any moment, big foot can come stomping down on us and destroy all of our hard work and ultimately kill us.  

Yes, pretty grim. I know it’s kind of funny actually that my sister would offer me that thought because I think of her as being perpetually optimistic. Um, but this thought in this moment struck me as a fact, like I really really thought, yes, humans are small and in consequential and we busy ourselves to an end that we don’t know, like, what is this all for? We can’t see it. We don’t know what it is. Survival? I guess. Well, I guess in some ways, yeah, we are small statistically speaking human beings. Hmm. Yes let’s find some statistics . They are important. That that would be fun.  

Whoa. Uh, okay. I’ve done a little research here and I found a very helpful infographic. It turns out humans, make up, and I quote a very, very small percentage of our total planetary biomass. So apparently a lot of the massive the world is bacteria. A lot of it’s fungi and some amount of it is human beings says the internet. Oh my God. Okay. I’m going to actually link to this Vox article that I’m referencing right now because these graphs are staggering. Um, I quote, if we zoom in on all animal life, just animal life on the planet, we see that insects actually outweigh human beings. And as far as mass on earth goes, insects outweigh humans by a factor of 17, which actually this is an incredible even mollusks like clams and mussels, et cetera, way more than humans on earth. Okay. That truly is mind-blowing especially given the analogy that we are like ants. I digress.  

We are small. All right. At very least we don’t weigh very much, but are we inconsequential? Although global warming would suggest the opposite. The bottom line is that the world will keep turning. Someone will leave a shady comment on your post on Instagram and the world will keep turning. Someone will abuse their power out there in the world and the sun will come up tomorrow. You will lose a job to someone you think is unqualified. And yes, the world keeps turning. It’ll probably continue to turn long after we humans are gone. So yes, in that way I maintain, we are inconsequential and yeah, we busy ourselves all day every day with work, with training, with networking, with socializing, with climbing that ladder with building our lives with Peloton rides, with providing for our family and our communities. We live in a society where busy is synonymous with good.  

We just all keep marching side note. My niece was singing. The ants go marching one by one hurrah hurrah as we were snowshoeing at 9,000 feet above sea level a couple of weeks ago. And I was surprisingly okay with that. I really liked her choice of song. Um, I just thought that was very poetic in that moment. Especially as I was meditating on this idea that we are all ants and we all go marching down to the ground to get out of the rain or in our case, snow anyways, this aunt’s thought seemed so real. And wouldn’t, you know, it, when I thought that thought I felt small, I felt in consequential powerless, even it wasn’t until my flight back to LA, that I realized the effect that that thought was having on my behavior. That thought, however, true, it seemed was not particularly useful.  

Sis, I’m not blaming you by the way. I’m just learning from you. So this not inspiring, not motivating thought that we are just ants. If anything served as a great excuse to not really do much, if anything served as a great excuse to feel small, inconsequential and powerless, but we’re talking 2022 here. I know many of you like myself are feeling like making up for lost time. We are tired, tired of mandates, tired of lockdowns, tired of politics, tired of the, the systemic issues in our society, tired of death, tired of drama. And we are ready for new ready for a new year, a fresh start. And Ooh, my friends, this this right here, this is where we differ from ants. Ants don’t celebrate new years. They don’t post to their antsagram. See what I did there. They don’t post about their new year.  

New me ants do a lot, but they do not feel emotions. They literally do not have a central nervous system, but they do survive. And they do all of their doing by instinct. We humans do because of how we think we’ll feel. Once we do all the right things, we do things because of how we think we’ll feel. If we don’t do them, or sometimes we don’t do things because of how we think we’ll feel it truly wasn’t until my flight home, until I literally reached 30,000 feet and was able to zoom out and realize number one, we aren’t ants. And number two aunts are actually pretty impressive. So even if we were aunts, which we aren’t, that wouldn’t be so bad, allow me to elaborate a little bit. Ants are incredible. I’m just gonna, I’m just gonna spitball some ant facts that you right now, aunts can carry more than 20 to 50 times their body weight.  

And they don’t even have a lungs or blood. They’re one of the world’s strongest creatures in relation to their size. And one ant species even holds the record for fastest movement in the animal kingdom. Um, it can snap its jaw closed at 140 miles per hour. Take that Elon Musk. Um, oh, and there’s another ant species that is the most venomous insect in all of the world. Friends. What the heck? We’re learning so much about ans today. And we’re only halfway through ants are also remarkable in that they have ways of teaching what they have learned to other aunts. They live in hierarchical show  they live in hierarchical social structures and they work together as a group. They’re even assigned jobs like worker, aunt, other aunt queen, aunt, you know, the different types of ants. Um, what else, what else am I not telling you about ants?  

Oh, this I thought was special. Their jobs can change throughout their lifetime. So nobody’s saying that like a worker ant can’t become the queen. And maybe I think don’t quote me on that. Anyways. A final fun fact about aunts. They can farm. They actually protect other creatures and food from predators. In some cases, they even housed them in exchange for food. They’re like excellent negotiators. This thought this analogy that we are ants, because it’s actually a metaphor. This metaphor that we, our ants went from being an excuse. That made me feel small to being a thought that empowered me to keep marching along with my community. And I think that like ants, we can do incredible things. Especially when we work together, we can move things that exceed our body weight. Uh, we can build intricate pathways and structures that protect us. We can negotiate.  

We can destroy things that are bigger than we are another fun fact. According to the USDA fire ants cause an estimated 6 billion plus dollars of damage in the United States per year. Y’all that’s serious. And it is a testament that when we work together, we are smarter, stronger, more powerful and more dangerous than we are when we are alone. But, but, but, and, and, and aunt, aunt, aunt, we humans can do incredible things by ourselves as well. Even one human being, because we have these gigantic human brains and we have self-awareness. We have the ability to think and think about our thinking, oh, and before I go any further, I must point out in case any ant specialists are listening today, by the way, reach out to me, it would love to talk to you. Aunts do have brains, but they are very small relative to their size now because we have these brilliant brains, these human minds, we can also feel, we can feel emotions. We can experience joy, pleasure pain. We have a sense of play and adventure and love we can create, but what’s even better than that. We can create for no reason at all.  

Past humans, previous human types worked really, really hard to figure out the whole survival part. And now we are at the thrival part. I made that word up. Um, we can thrive now. Like we’re not going to be eaten by a saber tooth tiger. We have technology to help us through most of our day, most of the time. So let’s talk about thriving Shelly in episode one, when I talk about doing daily and in episode 53, when I talk about redoing daily, I discuss new year’s resolutions and goal cultivation. In general, I underline something very important. The reason why most resolutions be they new years or otherwise fizzle out the reason why most goals go unaccomplished. And that is because most people try to change their behavior without changing the way that they think this is again, where we differ from ants, my friends, we can think we can feel the emotions.  

And that awareness is the first step of changing the way you behave. So whether you are doing daily or not, if you’re looking for a thought that will help you change your own life and therefore in the butterfly effect type of way, change the world. You can start here. I may be small, but I am strong. I may be smart, but all of us are smarter than one of us. I can March alone or in line. I am not an ant, but even if I was that wouldn’t be so bad because ants are incredible. See, we aren’t actually ants. We are humans. We invented the wheel, electricity, the internet, hi, we can dance. We can learn choreography and we can freestyle answer Mads strong, and they have stamina, but they can’t do that. I’m guessing, forgive the terrible cliche, but humans can March to the beat of our own drum. We can feel, we can feel remorse, rage, love, and we can watch ourselves thinking we can manage our minds. Ants can’t do that. I don’t think ants can do that. I don’t actually know. I think the movie ants would suggest otherwise, but I haven’t seen that movie. And I’m pretty sure it’s fictional.  

We humans can take on personal projects for no other reason than our very own pleasure and progress. That makes a difference in the world. We can take on projects and tell the world and change the world. We can take on personal projects that no one has to know about. We can do so much when we manage our minds, we can do so, so, so much when we work together and that’s the work. 

My friends I’m wishing you all have the strength and stamina, all of the courage and creativity and all of the love in this ant filled world in 2022 so much. So in fact that I’m offering a free career coaching call on January 13th at 11:00 AM. Pacific time, you don’t even have to participate. You don’t have to speak. You can just show up in spy on what a coaching call is, if you want. Uh, but you do to register, to receive the link. So do not sleep on it. Visit thedanawilson.com/work with me to register. And I’ll see you there. That is what I have for you today. My friends, we are not ants, but if we were that wouldn’t be so bad because ants are incredible. And so are you get out there and keep it funky. Y’all I’ll talk to you soon.  

This podcast was produced by me with the help of many; Music by Max Winnie, logo and brand design by Bree Reetz, and a big thanks to Riley Higgins, our executive assistant and editor, and also massive thanks to you. The mover, who is no stranger to taking action, I will not stand in the way of you taking action. I will not cannot stop you from downloading episodes or leaving a review and a rating. I cannot keep you from visiting thedanawilson.com to join our mailing list. I will not ban you from my online store for spending your hard earned money on the cool merch and awesome programs that await you there. And of course, if you want to talk with me, work with me and make moves with the rest of the words that move me community, I will 100% not stop you. Visit thedanawilson.com to become a member and get a peek at everything else I do that is not a weekly podcast. Keep it funky, everyone. 

Ep. #105 Question of the Year: What Makes Someone an Artist?

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #105 Question of the Year: What Makes Someone an Artist?

Last year, my final episode was a compilation episode. Every single guest from the season took a stab at answering the same question: What is the difference between technique and style? I enjoyed that episode and all of those conversations so much, I decided to make a tradition out of it.   This year, I asked every guest a question, but I switched it up a bit…  Here we are, closing our year season with every guest’s answer to the question: WHAT MAKES SOMEONE AN ARTIST?  Get ready to be a part of the conversation, and walk away with your very own answer to a very simple yet remarkably hard question.


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: Woo freaking hoo. We made it my friend. This is the final episode of 2021 last episode of season two. Wow. As I was preparing for this final episode, I thought it would be fun to Google 2021 was a blank. Uh, and just see what happens. You know, you get the, the recommended searches. Here’s what came up in my recommended searches. 2021 was a bad year, a challenging year, a dumpster fire, a hard year, a good year, a great year.  

And last but not least a shits show candle, S C H I T T as in the show Schitt’s Creek, which is one of my favorites. Um, I’m thinking maybe perhaps the show had some sort of merge and 2021 was a shit show candle. I don’t understand, but that was featured in my suggested searches. And I don’t know, I don’t know what to say about that, but to me, I’m landing on 2021 was a full year full of awesome and full of shit candles. If you will. I am so glad to be rounding out this season. On this episode, it is stimulating and thought provoking and heartfelt and art full art felt it is art felt. You’ll see what I mean by that in a moment. But first wins today. I am celebrating a healthy family and a healthy body, um, in a surprise turn of events, I wound up traveling to be with family the week before Christmas, uh, was not the plan, but it was very important.  

Speaker 0    00:02:42    I got to spend time with the in-laws. Hi Reetz says hi Cece. Hi Sarah. Hi Lucy. Hi Bethy and Hi will. Hi Ben, except Ben can drive himself now. So Ben is probably not in the car listening, but hi everyone. I love you all. So, so, so much. I also got to pass through Denver and visit with my family, which was super, super sweet. Um, the real cherry on top though, is that I got to spend a few days and nights up in the mountains at my sister’s cabin. Um, I even went snowshoeing on a trail that was cleared by my brother-in-law. It was fabulous. Um, and on the hike I was joined by my eight year old niece who proved herself way more athletic than I thought she was actually probably more athletic than I am. She is a star. I’m so proud of you, Emily. Great job. Um, I suppose that if you are listening to this episode on the day of its release, you can head over to words that move me podcast, all words, no spaces, um, on Instagram. And I will post some of those photos because I’m just standing in this podcast booth wishing I could show you what I saw and I can. So, um, throughout the day today, Wednesday, I will be posting some photos of my hike. Okay. That is me. Now you go, what are you celebrating today? What’s going well in your world.  

Congratulations. Um, and you know what, actually, we’re going to do that one more time. Uh, you’re going to celebrate just one more win. And this time I want you to zoom out zoom all the way out and look at your year. You’re at 2021. What are you celebrating this year? What went well in the last 365 beats?  

Hell yes. Congrats. I’m so proud of you. I am so proud of us. My friends, we really got through that, wizard it all right now, let’s get through this. Shall we? Last year, my final episode was a compilation episode. Every single guest from the season took a stab at answering the same question. And last season, that question was what is the difference between technique and style, favorite episode? So good. Check that out. That was episode 52. Go check that out this year. However, I asked all of my quests a different guesstion this year. However, I asked all of my guests a different question. I asked what makes someone an artist. Now I’ll preface. This question is a total setup because it’s hard to answer it without first defining art. And as we know that can take centuries and ultimately remain agreed upon. I’ve never actually heard an answer to that question, or I’ve never been able to define art.  

Never heard it defined in a way that struck me as 100% true and real and incontestable. But if I had to answer this question today, if I had to tell you what makes someone an artist, I’d say that an artist is a being who makes something invisible, visible, and I’ll move right on so that you don’t have time to punch holes in my answer, we’re just going to bless them through movers and shakers. Enjoy every single guest from 2021 telling you what makes someone an artist. First we will hear from Kara Mac, Tyce Diorio, Tilly Evans-Krueger, Jonathan Battista, Rebekah Rangle, and Hok. 

Dana: What makes someone an artist?  I know, I know, I know it’s a set up and heavy. I mean marinade on that. 

Kara: What makes someone, an artist, an artist is a person who is led solely by their spirit. First, there are different letter levels to artisans. So you have artisans that may have the ability to understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. And then you have artisans who don’t yet understand, but in both situations, they are moved. That’s why we use the word emotion E motion. Something that moves you their moved to create, create is the basis for change. So in both situations where in their heads, one person may understand another person may not, but in both situations, they are first led only by their spirit and their emotions. That’s an artist.  

Tyce: What makes someone, an artist is who they are at the core, everything they are, everything they aren’t there, their successes, their fears, their, everything, everything in one big beautiful melting pot. Yeah.  

Tilly: Being an artist as innate. Everyone’s an artist.  

Jonathan: Wow. Themselves. Absolutely. It’s becoming an artist. It’s about who you are. It’s about your essence. It’s about what’s rooted within you. It’s about your individuality, your uniqueness, your soul, your heart, your mind, no judgment, not at all. It’s about freedom to become and you can become anything you want to become. You are one with nature and you are nature. So it’s about you. That’s becoming an artist. I think sometimes we search or so much what’s out there. How can I become that? How can it transform that one thing that I have seen and I have heard, or have been labeled as, and now it’s about how you move. It’s about how you speak. It’s. How about how you dance your fly. It’s truly about you.  

Rebekah: That’s a good question, because I feel like there’s probably a million artists who are like, I don’t call myself that, but like you would probably think that they’re artists,  

Hok: That that’s a pretty tough one. What makes someone an artist? I think the moment there is a perceiver where whether that might be the artist itself or someone else, uh, the moment that someone decides that is art. I think anyone could become an artist. And uh, in that way, I guess technically anyone could become an artist in a very broad definition of it. But that is my answer right now. And you could ask me the same question next to it. And I might a vastly different answer right there. But I think, I think right now we can agree that anyone can become an artist.  

Dana: I love that. Yes. Yes. Each of these fabulous humans, artists, I will call them come from the perspective that creating is innate, that art comes from the self, any self, and they love that next step you will hear from Will Simmons, Eartha Robinson and Dominique Kelly.  

Will: Um, what makes someone, an artists to me is an artist that attend the work and puts in the time. And this goes to anything. This can be into basketball and to dance and to singing anyone who really digs into their work falls in love with it. Um, that respects the artwork and the craft, and really just has the full right intention because anyone in reality can be an artist. But what makes a good artist is someone who loves it, who lives and breathes it and who was ready to do everything it takes to become successful at it. I really think that’s what makes a good artists.  

Eartha: What makes an artist, uh, creativity and the love for it. The ability to open up and let this, um, force of love and creativity flow out of you as a constant stream. It’s something, it’s your path. It’s what you, it’s. Your passion is what you are and who you are. Everything that you do, what you touch, you are living that constantly. So you’re always in the state of creation. You’re always ever flowing in the artistry that you do, but like we’ll set whether it’s sports or singing, but it’s, it’s your intention in that. And it’s not something that you just pick up and you are all of a sudden, you’re constantly on that path of artistry and you never really arrive. If you’re a true artist, you never really say I am that thing now, period. You’re always on a path of creativity to true artistry. I think you never really, if it’s flowing through you always, you are that artist. It does not stop until you take your last breath. And even then I think the intention of the creativity makes the artist.  

Dominique: I think the thing that makes someone, an artist is being a vessel. Anyone can be an artist because we all have stories to tell. We all have ways to tell those stories because not everyone can speak. Not everyone can see, not everyone can feel. So, however way you tell your story or tell us story that makes you an artist.  

Will: That was a good little tagline. Look at you. You wrote that down, didn’t you? 

Dana: I love how Will and Eartha and we’ll I’ll have really different angles. And I simply enjoyed being a fly on the wall for that conversation. Um, and if you enjoy that as well, then you would probably definitely most certainly enjoy their complete episode, episode number 61, crushing. Okay. Let’s keep it pushing next. You will hear from Smac, Galen hooks, Julia Grubbs and Miguel Zarate 

Dana: Tough question. It’s intended to be what makes someone an artist?  

Smac: Uh, gosh, you hitting me with the hardcore stats. Um, I just think someone who was, oh gosh, I was just going to say no wonder it was fun. I mean, yeah. Anyone who’s fun. Isn’t all this. I think someone who can just look at anything regular, any object, any scenario, listen to any song and just, uh, interpreted in a non-regular way. Does that mean, is that a good answer? 

Dana: I love that answer. I also love the first answer. Fun. Any anybody? You’re an artist and I want to be arguing with you.  

Smac: I just hope that every artist is fun. Cause you know, at least at times just have a little bit of fun in your art.  

Galen: Someone is an artist. If they interpret the world around them, through their own lens and spit it back out in a way that has been,  

Dana: I love the cadence. Actually. It was on the edge of my toes because I’m not sitting down right now.  

Galen: Oh man, I failed miserably.  

Dana: Do you want to try it again? Cause I see what you’re saying and I actually, I love it.  

Galen: Uh, an artist is someone who, who reinterprets the literal things they see in the world and spits it back out through their own lens, whether it’s through song or dance or art or I mean art, not art paint, particularly any sort of medium that you’re taking, what you see the world to be in, reinterpreting it through your own lens.  

Dana: Well said, I love it. I’ll take it.  

Julia: I think what makes somebody an artist is to describe, to be able to portray or describe any aspect of the human condition in a way that someone else can say, look at it, hear it, feel it and say, I know that.  

Dana: What makes someone an artist?  

Miquel: Oh God, a point of view period. A point of view.  

Dana: See that wasn’t so hard,  

Miquel: No a clear a point of view on what are you doing then I don’t need to see you. I don’t need to, I don’t need to see it. I don’t need to hear it. I don’t need to do anything with it. If you don’t have a plan, you don’t need to buy it. No, exactly, exactly. You’re allowed to do whatever you want, but I truly believe an artist has to have a point of view to be an artist.  

Dana: All of those perspectives, underline the importance of a point of view or being able to look at the world in a certain way. I can totally get on board with those definitions. I think it’s possible actually someday when VR is more accessible and affordable, that we’ll probably be able to like put on a pair of glasses and see the world through Wes Anderson’s eyes or Picasso’s eyes or Steven Spielberg’s eyes or your eyes. What do you think about that? I think that that is terrifying, but also awesome. And I think that speaking of seeing the world through the artful lens, this next section is a personal favorite of mine in this next section. You’re going to hear from the, In the Heights choreography team, Christopher Scott, then Eddie Torres, Jr. Princess Serrano, then Meghan McFerran and Emilio, Duracell and Ebony Williams. I’m gonna come tracking you down for an answer to this question. She had to jump off the call early. I promise I’m going to get it. I’m going to get the answer. What makes someone an artist?  

Chris: I mean, I can speak cause that’s the thing is I probably won’t be happy with my answer. One thing I think about when I think about like even labeling myself as an artist. Cause I, you know, we struggle with that. I feel like. And sometimes I think, well maybe that’s what makes you an artist that is, if you, if you, I don’t know, I’m really like liberal with it. Like to me, it’s like, if you want to claim that you’re an artist, then you’re an artist. Like be one, like if that’s, if, if for you the way you, you know, pack your bag every morning, it could be a way of art, a way of expressing yourself. Like, I don’t know, like to me it’s like really there is no, uh, like what makes you an artist? I think if you want to be one than just be one and just claim it and do it. And because somebody out there is going to relate to what your art is, whether everybody else does or not. And, and you know, if you can get to that person, then you know, you’re, you’re creating art and that could, that could be long after you’re gone. So to me, it’s, you know, being an artist is just freeing. 

Eddie: No, I like that. Yeah. Actually. I mean, now that you said that Chris, I think now that you made it clear for me being an artist is really just being free in my opinion, being free in who you are and your beliefs in your imagination and just letting that flow through you without any filter, without any like, just really expressing. And that comes in all limitless forms, not just dance and STNA, not just the common ways that what we call entertainment, but I know artists that, that just, you know, on the corner and they’re artists and they don’t even know that they’re an artists and they’re just, they speak from a, they see the world differently. They see it through, you know, it’s just, it’s just, it’s it’s freedom. 

Princess: Um, I would say doing whatever it is that you do just doing it, that’s also the same as being, being free, just doing it could be so simple, but it’s the gift that God gave you. So that’s your art  

Meghan:I think on top of being free. Yes, totally being an art, being an artist is being free and it’s also celebrating life in any aspect way, shape or form.  

Emilio: Uh I’m uh, I’m going to take a page from Eckhart Tolle. Being an artist is being in the now it’s being present, uh, in my experience, anytime that I’ve done my artistry, which is dance, um, completely present, um, whole I’m one. I am enough. That’s what being an artist is, is living in the now  

Dana: I really love how that section seemed to be big on the theme of freedom, because so as the film, hello, if you haven’t seen it yet, by the way in the Heights, that is, I implore you to do so, and then go back and listen to our choreo team episode, which was episode number 97. I am so glad we got to do that. And I’m so grateful to have been a part of that team. Holy smokes. So we had, all right, next step, we are digging into the idea of art in relationship to truth. This is Reshma Gajjar,  Matty Peacock and Nina McNeely.  

Reshma: I think somebody who is an artist is someone who is expressing their truth in any form. However, that looks,  

Matty: Um, someone noticed someone who can find, um, truth and honesty in what they do. I think,  

Nina: I think I got it 

Dana: Hit me 

Nina: Telling the truth These days. I really think of that. Like we got a challenge it’s I think it’s an artist’s responsibility to challenge the status quo. And that has my feathers rustled, very rustled these days. Let’s just say,  

Dana: I feel that failure truth. I’ll take it. I, I think the, what is art conversation is exhausting and I’m not honestly, I’m not so interested in it. I don’t think art is as powerful as we hoped it would be. I think people, I think especially fine art people who scoff at the entertainment industry are really missing something because I think that what we do and, and the way that we can invite fine art and fine art elements into blockbuster films and music videos is really cool.  

Nina: Oh yeah. I think it totally can exist in both realms. And I honestly like really don’t like the academia kind of side of art of dance, especially, and are like, like I was saying, like, I don’t care about your process and you being in your sweats, talking about it, bore balls in the McGillicuddy, please put some effort in, please, please. For the love of God, get a costume, gets, do some lights. Like I also think too, it’s like, I don’t like to be con not maybe confused as like, I don’t need to be so perplexed that I don’t. I feel like I’m dumb because I don’t get something like, I actually like to be entertained those really long silence, Swedish movies, Sofia Coppola. So snore. So I don’t like it. I like being entertained and I don’t, I don’t think that entertainment makes it not art or that humor makes something not art. Look at John Waters.  

Dana: Talk about telling the truth. Yeah. Comedians do that better than everyone. One of the things that I’ve learned in my clown school experience is that clowns, uh, in the very, very early days were the only ones permitted to make fun of royalty. They were allowed to poke fun. Everyone else would be beheaded, but clowns were allowed to because it was part of their job. I think it’s, I think it’s fascinating. 

Nina: Absolutely.

Dana: Friends, so good, man. I am in love with this episode. I could talk about each of those answers and perspectives for forever. Uh, but I do want to get into this next section. So here we go. Now you’re going to hear from Erika Mori, Nika Klune, Craig Bayliss, and Kat burns.  

Erika: What makes someone an artist is the self-awareness to tap into their creativity and the courage it takes to share it with others.  

Nika: This is deep.Okay. Okay. I got it

Dana: It is it’s really, it’s hard to approach. So a lot of people like go go very broad and really simplify. Um, like I would accept if somebody is an artist, if they make art,  

Nika: I want to say something very smart, but I can’t because it’s English. Um, but I want to say left feeling to say, uh, artists is someone who is fearless. Someone who is unstoppable, fearless, unstoppable, and is making their own rules.  

Dana: That is a beautiful answer. I love that. We’ve got it. That’s perfect. Although, although it would be fun to hear you say in your native language, if you’d like, 

Craig: Uh, I believe what makes someone an artist is each person’s courage to recognize who they really are M at same courage that it takes for them to express that through any medium of, you know, creative acumen. I think that’s what makes an artist. And I’ve said this for years, uh, that the only authority on art is art itself  

Kat: After Craig, how are you going to play me? Um, I think life experiences make an artist. I think, oh God, I don’t know. This is a very hard one. Dana, because art to me just feels so broad and it can be a mini. It could be a mini thing. Uh, I feel like art. What makes an artist is a, is a personal expression onto your chosen craft. That’s ridiculous. What makes an artist? I don’t know. Someone trying to communicate something to the world in some form or another,  

Dana: I’ll take it. I will buy that for a dollar. 

Dana: It is no shock to me that all four of those guests focus on courage and fearlessness because I perceive them all as being quite brave. This next bundle of guests is very brave too, but in their answers, they focus on a very specific function of art. And that is communication. This is Jessica Castro, Lily Frias, and Terri Santiago. Jess Castro. 

Dana: Yes. What makes someone an artist? 

Jess: Ah, oh man. Okay. What makes someone, an artist is someone that is willing to be vulnerable without holding anything back, allowing others to join in that vulnerability? I think, I think that’s how I can explain it.  

Dana: Lily, what makes someone an artist?  

Lilly: Ooh, what makes someone an artist? I think individuality representation and freedom of expression, inspiring others to do the same.  

Terri: Um, and I think that what makes people, someone, an artist is their communication with other people and having the ability to create, not to create, but to communicate with someone and have them add to what you’re doing and being able to reach multiple people have, you know, thousands of hundreds of people, whatever it is, but being able to reach people and communicate with them and have them enjoy what’s inside of you think that’s what makes you, you know, artists I’ve, I’ve been an artist position. So that’s sorta kind of my perspective. If, if I’m doing something, if I were doing something and the people weren’t reacting to me, I needed to do more to make them react.  

Dana: So if, if people aren’t reacting, you’re not an artist,  

Terri: No, you’re still an artist. They’re just not reacting the way that you need them to react. So it makes you want to do more. Does that make sense? 

Dana: I’m challenging you just for the sake of conversation. 

Dana: When I think of art as communication and artists as speakers or editors, I’m reminded of the importance of having a voice. And I am so, so grateful for this podcast for helping me to find and refine mine, warm and fuzzy thoughts that make me want to cry a little bit. And we’re still going, here we go. Next up. You’ll hear from Ava Bernstein-Mitchell, Jin Lee and Ardyn Flynt.  

Ava: I think what makes someone an artist I’m going to give a simple form. A is someone who, somebody who is creating, who creates something. Um, and I don’t want to add a professional level to it if they’re good or the bad artists objective, I read the book big magic and it changed my way of thinking. I really, really liked that book. And so I think anybody who is creating it and putting out in the world is an artist.  

Jin: I think anyone that uses their creative like flow, like anything creative, I think to me, makes them an artist, dancers, singers, you know, comedians like actors. I feel like I live in the Mecca of artists.  

Ardyn: What makes someone, an artist, someone who consciously intentionally and actively engage his practice of witnessing, participating in and creating art. Is that horrible cop out answer?  

Dana: No, I think what this question is designed to be challenged.  

Ardyn: I think someone who invests. Yeah. I think someone  

Dana: Who invests in what the making or the art, like I could be an, an, an investor who purchases or invest in art, but I don’t know if that’s makes me an artist.  

Ardyn: I think it’s, I think it’s the making I can, I think, I think that you can be an artist. Well know that sounds kind of crazy, right? You can’t be an artist without making art or, cause I was thinking, I was thinking that there could be a way in which individuals can view the world and other and other humans that might qualify them as artist. That feels feels right. That’s a good question. Without making an art product.  

Dana: Yeah, I think so. I think so. 


Dana: I love that little cluster because hello, artists are people who create so simple, right? And at times so difficult. All right, my friend, we’re getting down to it. Our final few answers. Next step you’ll hear from Muncell Durden. His answer is exceptional and I am so not surprised by that because his self, this is exceptional. Enjoy Moncell Durden.  

Moncell: What makes someone, an artist? No one will ever give you the answer. I’m about to give. I don’t know if this necessarily makes them an artist, but I have my own definition for the word art, because I did not subscribe to dance. Being an art form for years, to me, dance was not art. I’m a visual painter as well. I specialize in realism, particularly portraits and seeing them. So art for me coming from that background in my life is a fixed thing. I take a photo, the photo is done. I frame it. I hang it. I make a painting. It’s done. I frame it. I hang it. So art was a fixed thing. Dancing is not fixed. It’s ever growing and ever changing. I’m not ever done with it. So that’s how I saw art. So I was like, I don’t think that dance is not art for me. Um, however, I pondered this for like over a year, almost two years, because I was like, is it an art? Like, am I wrong for thinking? That’s not? So I’m thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking, and then one day it hits. I know what art is. And under that definition, the definition I came up with, I was okay with dance being art. And again, this is, this doesn’t mean other people have to subscribe to it. This is just me. So my definition for the word art is awareness reflective of transcendentalism.  

Dana: You have a four word definition for art.  

Moncell: If you want to include of

Dana: I do you want to have three words?  

Moncell: Uh, yeah, but I can go with, uh, it’s just the connector. It’s your, what we call art is how we are. Everything for me comes back to a few things. I think five, it comes back to social political, economic, environmental, cultural, and spiritual. Everything comes back to that. And the idea of what makes a person an artist was that it and artists is the fact that they are aware of those things. They are reflective of their awareness in the transcendentalism, in their hub, in their habitus, in those things. But it just is cyclical because what are you awareness? Your awareness is of transcendentalism. And you reflect that awareness of your track. This one. So it’s cyclical. It just bounce around it, depending on how you want to move. And as regular circle and the figure eight is just intertwining. And I’m like, yeah, that’s what, that’s what art is. It reflects your environment. And it is, there is an awareness of the environment that you’re reflecting. It’s not mirrored. So we’re not, you not purely talking about, you know, mirror neurons, we’re under, we have an awareness of this. And yeah, I was like, okay, well under that, then dance, dance fits into that. It’s, you know, there’s an awareness that reflects my lived experience.  

Dana: Well, my friend, what do you think there is certainly a lot to think about a lot to chew on with your mind. And I hope that after listening to that, and to this episode, you feel prepared in answering this question for yourself, perhaps, you know, in case anyone ever asks you just on the street, Hey, by the way, what makes someone an artist? I think it’s a good thing to have a position on. And if you would like to share your position, by the way, tell us your answer to this question. You can post it on Instagram and tag us at words, the movie podcast, you can DM us if you would rather keep this a secret answer to this very public question. Um, but I really do love having this conversation with people. So please let me know what you think makes someone an artist.  

And now before I throw it to my very own sister to close it out, I want to thank you. My listeners for being a part of another incredible season complete with huge mile markers, I might add our 100th episode was back there a little while ago and over 100,000 downloads, ye frickin ha. I am stoked on this. I’m stoked on the community that is growing around this podcast. Please continue to tell your friends, share the podcast, keep the podcast with you by downloading it. And oh yes. And leave a review and rating, which by the way you can do on Spotify. Now I did not know that until very recently, you can leave a review and a rating on Spotify. Do it. Thank you for doing it. It helps other people find the podcast, uh, and ultimately not to sound corny, but it’s real. It’s so true. Your words move me too. So I am ready to move into season three. Let’s close out season two with a bang and just a few more words, literally from my sister, Dr. Adrienne Mann, keep it funky. I’ll I’ll talk to you soon.  

Dana: What makes someone an artist? 

Dr. Mann: Their thoughts? 

Dana: The end. 

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

Ep. #104 Wrapping the Gift that is WTMM Season 2 with Riley Higgins

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #104 Wrapping the Gift that is WTMM Season 2 with Riley Higgins

This episode- a year in review- was so fun to make, it will become a WTMM tradition for sure!  Today, I’m joined by my executive assistant and podcast editor, Riley Higgins (who takes great notes), and we recap being moved by this podcast for all of 2021.   Get all the BTS and best bits of Season 2 AND a hint of what’s to come in Season 3!!!

Ep. #103 Corporeal Conversations on the Techniques of Improvisation… and TikTok with Ardyn Flynt

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #103 Corporeal Conversations on the Techniques of Improvisation… and TikTok with Ardyn Flynt

This episode is all about techniques within the realm of improvisation.  The big idea: when focus narrows, possibility widens! Ardyn Flynt and I talk about the techniques of mime, Forsythe, cyphers, Laban, and even the technique of TikTok.  I always learn a lot from Ardyn, but in this conversation, I walked away with a knowing of what it means to be a participating observer, AND how easy it can be to reframe our thoughts around dance as a social and professional practice. Dig in and ENJOY!


Ardyn on IG and TikTok: https://www.instagram.com/ardundundun/?hl=en


WTMM Holiday Shopping! 


Get 25% off Annual Memberships by using the Coupon Code: UnconditionalLove

ADF American Dance Festival: https://americandancefestival.org/

Mastery of Movement: Book by Rudolf von Laban: https://amzn.to/3oIQFPJ

Ep #59: Deeper Roots with Moncell Durden : https://www.thedanawilson.com/podcast/ep-59

New Years Training Camp: https://franciscogelladance.com/new-years-training-camp-2021/

Forsythe Technique: https://www.williamforsythe.com/publications.html

Funkamental MediKinetics:


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: Oh no. Hello, dance types, creative types of all types. Welcome. I am Dana Wilson and this is words that move me. I’m stoked that you’re here. You are here. I am here. Today’s guest who is here is art and Flint. She is a good friend, a brilliant dancer, a thoughtful thinker, teacher and tutor of mine. You’re going to hear a little bit more about that, but today we are going in on freestyle and improv techniques, um, techniques, but also philosophies and like states of being and, and, and, and it’s going to be great, but first we’re going to do wins. I’m going to do my win. I’ll share that with you. And then you’re going to go ahead and state your win. And then I’m going to explain how we can share our wins together in the future. And then I’m going to name the winner of our 100th episode contest.  

Uh, so this is a big segment. Are you ready? But my win today is that I can safely say I no longer freeze when I flub on camera. Um, the other word or the other way to say this is choke. It used to be when I was like 16 or 17, I really thought that a camera equaled, I will choke, like camera comes out. I will choke. And of course, when that’s the way I was thinking, that is what would happen. Holy smokes. I could talk about this at great length. And I probably will in an episode all to itself someday, but for now I will leave it at this. I’ve been back in class, which feels so good. And when that camera comes out and I’m not flawless because I’m not flawless, this is class we’re talking about here. Um, yeah, when I’m not flawless, I’m not phased is kind of remarkable and I’m genuinely shocked at how quickly I am able to recover. Um, and truly I was not always that way. I think the one thing that changed is the way I’m thinking. I used to think that camera equaled fail. And now I think that camera equals glass and plastic it’s neutral. It might even be beyond neutral. I might, I Marvel at cameras. I might even like them. I might even love them, but I do not care if I mess up in class. So that’s it. There it is. That’s my secret. And that’s my win. Now you go, what’s going well in your world.  

Fabulous. Congratulations and keep winning. I am so stoked for you. Okay. Now in past episodes, I have mentioned that we’ll be incorporating a way for you to share your wins on the podcast. Um, I, in the past told you to DM me a little voice note over at words that move me podcast on Instagram, but that was a lie that is not an effective way to share audio files. So from here on out, I encourage you. I implore you to share your wins with us by emailing them to w T M M as in words, that move me W T M M podcast, the word spelled out W T M, M the letters podcast, the word, no spaces, no nothing. WT, M M podcast@gmail.com. Bring your wins to W T M M podcast@gmail.com. I cannot wait to hear them. I cannot wait to feature some of them. Um, yeah, that’s, that’s the drill.  

That’s the deal. Okay. Now, final item of business. Before we get into this episode to celebrate our 100th episode, we had a giveaway contest on Instagram cash money, and, uh, we do that sort of thing a lot. So be sure that you’re following words that move me podcast all spelled out. No letters. Just the words. No spaces over on Instagram. Um, yes. Anyways, the winner of $100 cash is drum roll. Please. Do we have a room roll? Can we do we, do we have a drum roll? I dunno. Could we do, could you do that little bit, little drum roll Angela joy at joy because congratulations, Angela. And thank you for sharing the words that move you. 100 greenbacks are in an envelope and headed to you as we speak. Congratulations. Um, and thank you all for participating in the contest. I’m excited to do that again. Okay. Now let’s get into it, shall we. She is a USC grad. She is a tick talk star, and you are as likely to see her in the middle of a cipher, as you are likely to see her living her best night life as a go-go dancer in a club in west Hollywood, get ready for this. She is so thoughtful. She is so smart and she is so super duper funky. Y’all I can’t even handle anymore. Please give it up. Oh, like I’m an emcee. Please give a warm welcome for Arden Flint.  

Dana: Yes. Arden Flint. This is so long overdue. I am so excited to have you on the podcast. Welcome towards the move me. 

Ardyn: Thank you. I’m excited to  Be here. 

Dana: Um, I just, I know about you and I, that we have the capacity to talk about dance, about learning, about teaching dance, about being dancing. Um, you are certainly one of my favorite teachers that I’ve discovered in the last year or so. And one of my favorite dancers of all time, I can go ahead and say that confidently. I think I first saw you getting down at funk box in New York, and I’ve talked about FunkBox on the podcast before man. What a special place and what a special lady. Thank you so much for being here. Um, I think we’ll get into funk box. We’ll we’ll talk about freestyle where we’ll talk about teaching. We’ll talk about learning. Um, but first let’s just talk about you. Take a second, introduce yourself. Tell us what you would like us to know about you.  

Ardyn: Ooh. Um, I am Arden Flint and for the past, I guess I post post-graduation for me. My tagline in all of my little blurb Yo’s has been, I self identify as a core portal, conversationalist. I don’t know where that came from. I think I liked the way it tripped over the tongue, but I’ll stick with that. I’m Arden. I self identify as a corporeal conversationalist. I graduated from USC Kaufman in 2019 out here in Los Angeles. And since then have been working as a freelance, the elusive freelance lifestyle artist in Los Angeles. I would say that if I were to encapsulate my main interest in movement, it would be am very curious about the synthesis of dance forms that are traditionally positioned as binaries of one another.  

That sounds very appetizing. I am excited to dig into this. Um, you mentioned corporeal and I know the word corporeal in context, in the context of mime, could you explain a little bit more what you mean, what you mean by that?  

I have always used that word as pertaining to the body, but I’m wondering if I should back up and just Merriman Webster myself.  

Speaker 1    00:09:27    I don’t, I don’t think you need to, but I mean, the way that most people are introduced to the concept of mime is with a white face paint, a street performer wearing stripes, and they’re stuck in a box or playing tug of war, or like picking an apple off a tree or something like that. And corporeal mime, corporeal mime is specifically not about facial expressions narrative or like pantomime and gesture. Universal gestures will not be seen. Like you don’t see like the idea of an apple being tasty or, you know, these, these gestural hints towards storytelling. It is seriously about loading the body with emotion that could be universally understand under, uh, could be universally understood, but that’s not because there is a universal gesture or like there’s no pantomime involved. It is the, it is the absolute flip side of the coin that most people understand mine as being and corporeal. Mime is about the body. It is about, um, I guess, everything other than what is happening with the face. Um, it sounds to me like what you are saying is that you are a person whose focus is the body and what the body can do. Um, could you talk a little bit about how you became introduced to dance, how you made the decision to go to USC? Um, maybe just connect the, those early dots for us.  

Sure. I don’t remember the first time I danced, but I assumed that it was pretty soon after exiting the womb. My, my, my mom constantly played music around the house. I wouldn’t say that we were a household that danced, you know, I, I S I study and engage in a lot of different social practices that come from communities where dancing is a familial way of interacting. And I wouldn’t say that that was true for my family, but I always remember dancing and I, I’m not entirely sure what the initial reason was other than I really liked attention and performing. And for my mother, I was her only child. So I received a lot of attention for twirling and coming up with choreography. But I, I grew up in Hillsborough, North Carolina, and every summer there was this huge dance festival called the American dance festival. ADF.  It’s a massive modern dance festival is how they’re marketed, but they also have a really strong, particularly when I was growing up west African component, because east Baba, Chuck Davis and the African-American dance ensemble used to take up residence in the summer, uh, at ADF and Baba would run these open community drum circles and dance classes, and they would just be open and free to the community. And it was, um, west African traditional styles. That was Jolay do new bah. Um, yeah, it was so, so I, I grew up going to those. So I did have some element of sort of communal dancing that was available to me. A lot of it was just me wanting to twirl around in circles. Right. I started taking classes from a studio, I guess when I was maybe 15, I went to a local studio called bear skill.   And I, that was the first time I took a ballet class. I remember post little tour lead early, like three, whatever we called it, princess in tears, ballet. Um, but I remember taking my first ballet class and being the fuddled by the concept of preparation pre pre the bar combo. So that was sort of a late, uh, later discovery for me. And then I just fell in love with physical exertion and how hard it was. It was really hard. Ballet in particular was really hard. I wouldn’t say that I loved ballet as a form, but I loved how difficult it was.

You and I are different in that way. My friend, I hated them. Difficult ballet was really, I think every ballet teacher that I’ve ever had will tell you, they have seen me cry during a dodgy, oh, ha tears coming from my face and my legs at 90, I take the same number of hours of ballet per week as everyone else. And they leg was up at, you know, what is this slightly less than 180. And when was that? 90 in hot tears of like frustration, embarrassment, um, like this feeling like it should be different because other peoples were different and it was not appetizing to me that work was not exciting for me. It was embarrassing for me. So it’s interesting to hear that by default, you were attracted to hard work. Um, and when I watched you freestyle, the night that we met, I was like, oh, she’s working hard.  Like that is not anybody’s two-step. That is not a gentle round. That is exertion. It was athletic. It was risky. It was, um, yeah, it felt like I was watching a power ranger. I’ve only got good of seeing you, you know, on an action movie set. And there are like explosions happening around you and laser beams and combat. And I was like, that looks hard. Um, so it’s interesting that that’s kind of been a part of your trajectory from, from the early days. You like hard things. I, I do. I mean, am I oversimplifying? Probably  

Not at all, not at all my favorite thing about dance, which I, this is a gross oversimplification because I like other things about dance, but I would say that’s still the thing that overwhelmingly attracts me to dance as a profession is that it’s physically exhausting and my dance is physically exhausting. Yeah. Which good slash bad. Right. Because, you know, if I, I have dealt with a lot of injuries as a result of that. Um, so good slash bad. Cool, cool.  

Um, I think I am, again, on the opposite side of that spectrum, my favorite type of dance is the human type, the type that all can do, regardless of like, you know, stamina or physical, you know, endurance. Um, I love human style dance and human style range of motion. I think that got encouraged in me young. Like when my leg was at 90, I was like, oh, but there’s so much a body can do with a leg lower or at 90 anyways, I digress. Uh, I want to go travel into,  

Speaker 3    00:16:32    Let me know, because I like hard work does not mean my leg ever made it above 90. It’s still lower than 90, but endeavor towards plus 90.  When are we taking ballet class together? Then my follow up question,  

Anytime I, um, two classes I love or Spencer, and he does  

Spencer, the teaches the most nurturing human ballet class I’ve ever taken. I feel taller when I leave. My heart feels fuller, no hot tears, just smiles and infinite plea, a play that just I’m grounding. You guys, I’m grounding. I’m going, I’m going, I’m going. I hit the bat. I hit the depth and I’m thinking resistance I’m coming. That was an infinite ground flea. I just did. It felt so good though.  

I loved watching that example just now gave me that visual.  

 And I ran into my disco ball plan to go on my way up. Okay. So I want to go back to, I was not aware of your, your injury history, but you and I got closer during your recent surgery that you had on your knee. And I know that a lot of my listeners have already experienced traumatic injuries situations. I am certain what we do is physical that many of my listeners will experience, um, traumatic injury situations. I would love to talk a little bit about your mentality before, during and after, um, and where, where you stand now, when you think about your injury, what, what do you, what does it mean to, you know,  

I don’t know if I’m the best person to share encouraging words about during recovery mind state, because I was miserable for a, for a pretty long time. I had a really hard time pulling myself out of that. Um, I had a lot of people tell me when I got injured. I had a full lateral meniscus rupture, um, while dancing and going extraordinarily hard in a space. I probably didn’t need to, I E my love of physical exertion. Um, but I had a lot of people tell me when I got injured and, you know, I was going to have surgery that, well, don’t worry. It’ll be time to cultivate other things too.  

Yeah. It was probably one of those people actually. Yes.  

And it’s an extraordinary, valid thing to say. And I wish that I could say I had done that more. It, it was really hard for me to do that because I think it’s hard for anyone. And again, my favorite thing about dance was the sweating, the physical moment. It was the physical element. And so I even thought there was, there was maybe two, three weeks where I thought, well, I’m going to get really good at popping in my arms. And I, I, you know, I tried to sort of drill and I had just the, the inability to move my body in its fullest capacity made me so sad that I really stepped away from dance while I could not move like that. I even stopped really listening to music. It made me too sad, actually. So I, which, and I wish, I wish I could say that that was different, but it wasn’t.  

Speaker 3    00:19:45    It was, it was really very slow tedious month and a half, two months for me. Um, the, the time I spent with you, which was breaking down, uh, reading, um, mastery of movement by Labatt was I think the only time that I really utilized my mental capacity in a productive way outside of just wallowing was that was the, that was the during recovery. But I would say as soon as I was able to walk again, cause I was, I was bedridden as soon as I was able to walk again. And I had a, a physical goal in mind, which was relearn how to walk and eventually really learn how to dance. Uh, my brain really latched onto that. And that was at a very focused time for me. And I enjoyed that time a lot because it was also during pandemic. So I didn’t have anything else to do all day except squat. So I did PT and squats all and was able to sort of relearn and reading physical capacity. But, but I was, I was a mess during, I mean, I wish I could say that it wasn’t, but it was just, yeah, it was really.  

And how do you think of the injury now as it fits into your story of being a human? What is it, what does that chapter mean to you?  

Right. Well, I think it happened and I got through it and I am on the other side. So merely for the fact that it happened. And I knew that I didn’t see to be because in my head I thought, God, this is, you know, injuries. The worst thing that can happen to cancer. Oh my gosh. You know, the fact that I didn’t see it to be, and I am here talking to you very happy and physically capable. Now, I think it’s wonderful and speaks volumes to the fact that, well, if it happened again, which it might, it might happen again. I sort of thought that I was in followable and, um, you know, but it might happen again and I’ll go through it again and it might suck again, but I won’t cease to be. So I think that’s, you know, that’s helpful. Yeah. We won’t cease to be.  

We always, we think we’re the exception, don’t we, all of us will have it to me. That couldn’t happen to me. Um, I’m stronger, I’m smarter. I’m whatever. And then you’re like, oh, damn, I’m a human. Just like everyone else. I’m right. Yeah. You might be exceptional my friend, but you are not an exception to all of the rules. Um, okay. So yeah, let’s, let’s dig into Labon a little bit. You mentioned that a lot of the time we spent together during your injury was reviewing a technique or, well, it was review for you, but straight up learning for me, I hired you to be my private tutor in something called Labon technique. Rudolph Labon was the name of the man who created, oh man, a boatload of things, techniques, tools, I guess we’ll say, um, from full-blown dance notation to kind of, uh, I don’t know if we would call it, um, a way of movement or a technique of teaching movement, but I dunno, how would you I’m floundering miserably, which floundering almost like floating or dabbing or ringing? Um, it floundering is probably somewhere in between, somewhere in the center circle of a Labon Venn diagram somewhere, but how would you explain the technique that we worked on during that time or that, that you taught me during that time?  

Right. Well, just as a disclaimer, just in case anyone’s listening that actually Lavonne is really their thing. Don’t say that I was an accurate tutor in the Bon technique as a whole. It is such a wide, wide, many, many years, uh, endeavor. Um, I think, I think if I were to simplify it, it would be a man who endeavored to, to codify movement, which is just sort of an interesting, interesting endeavor at all, regardless, regardless of its relationship to dance, but  

It was perfect way to put it.  

Yeah. Yeah. He, he looked, he looked to create a Canon and, uh, a notation, the ability to put movement as it pertains to humans, not necessarily as it pertains to dancers, but as it pertains to humans, he looked to be able to canonize it essentially to be, to be able to put it on, on paper. So that in theory, I could hand you a set of instructions and you could perhaps embody the same that I just did, which is, which is pretty rare for movement. I mean, we have that from music and we, I don’t know enough about visual arts to know if there’s a way to sort of canonize. Hmm.  


But movement is generally the ephemeral as the femoral form. Right. So it’s, you know, there was an attempt to negate that idea.  

And this was certainly before you could hand me an MP4 or share me a tick tock video that was like, here, learn this. This was like, oh, how could you share or teach dance without being there in body or having a working body to do that. And my mind was blown at the introduction that you gave me. Um, and I still call on these tools often. I think that the, the parts of Laban technique that I latched on to most like viscerally, like the things that were the most sticky for me were these, um, these efforts and the categories of movement that he laid out. And basically any movement you could ever dream up would fall into, or be explainable by these categories, which are space, wait, time and flow. I think you and I created a really fun, um, acronym, uh, wooly sweater to feel,  

I was wondering what the acronym was. I kept coming up with Eddie and I knew that that was not correct, but,  

And you feel her tooth feel like after having eaten too much spinach, Willy his weight sweater, his space tooth is time and then feel as flow all this water to flow. And each of those categories has qualities or characteristics that help explain the range of movement within that category. For example, weight can be heavy or light and anything in the spectrum in between, um, sweater space can be direct or indirect. If you think about, um, align or the quickest distance between two points, that would be a very direct path between those two points. But you said you could also loop-de-loop and up and down and roundabout and forward and back, and go move very indirectly from a to B, um, was one or two time is, uh, like fast or slow and flow would be bound or free. So I really think that all of the movement could fit into the, could be explained by those categories and those characteristics.  And I find these words, these ranges in degrees of quality really useful when teaching or explaining dance to non dancers. So I call on the laban when I’m doing movement direction, movement, coaching, um, character specific movement, working with actors, working with non dancers, because even a non dancer understands what free movement looks like or bound movement looks like and feels like. And so explaining movement in those terms, I think can get, makes dance more accessible, makes dance kind of more fun, even is less about the lexicon and the discipline and the, you know, tremendous vocabulary and years and years of technique and training that some people have when they walk into the room. And it just makes it that much more accessible. All movement will be either heavy or light direct or indirect free or bound or fast or slow, and let’s play within those parameters.  

Speaker 1    00:28:10    So men, we, we got to really dig into that together. And I, I am sorry that you did not have a 100% functioning moving body to be doing that work, but the nature of it, you know, written vocabulary codified as a better way to put it, um, that made this, I think, or at least what I hoped to be an area of dance that you could dig into without, you know, needing, uh, a tremendously capable body to do it. I dunno. I think so fondly on, on that time in training and I use it often.  

That’s awesome. Yeah. I w I was curious when, when we were doing it, I, it seems like part of your interest in, it was also in relationship to, to mine, where that seemed to be an access point for you. So I was curious if you continued to use it within, I think I use it too, but I don’t think that I assigned those words to it. I think it happens as a result of other improvisitory systems that I’ve studied. But, um, I was, I was curious if you still used it oh, 100% with that specific terminology. Yeah.  

I do less in my personal practice as a dancer, more in my practice as a teacher movement director and movement coach. Yeah. Calling it all the time. Um, okay. I think you are a very technical person. Um, and I think that because you have taught me for example, a Lavon technique, um, but I’ve also, I know that you, um, have become extremely familiar with foresights techniques and modalities. You have been interested to be teaching that work. You are out there in the world doing it. I, I think of technique as whatever works. Um, I would love to hear about your favorite techniques and if there are things that I would love as much as I love Laban, I want to know what they are. And it’s, it’s so cool that even as a 30 something professional, like self-proclaimed movement master, there are still things that I am so still learning. Um, but yeah, what I would love to hear, what am I missing still?  

I think the word technique is used to encompass a very specific set of dance  Forms like classical forms,  

Ballet, contemporary jazz is sort of the general grouping that’s sometimes comes along with the word technique for people in, in the way that they conceptualize it. But I agree with you in that technique is, is any system that’s had ever   Works works? Yeah,  

It’s just, it’s a system that works, or it’s a system that someone has invested thoughts, time, energy in exploration trial,  And into solidifying. I think my favorite techniques are they exist within the realm of improvisation slash  

 Let’s agree. This is what I want to hear about. And I know a lot of my audience listener types are with me on this, because I think a lot of listeners like me grew up in a dance studio where freestyle and social dance, like community style dance, the way that you were introduced to it was not a part of our lives. And maybe still not for many people. So dig in, please.  

I think, well, on that note, I think that freestyle is so scary. I think it’s scary. I’m still scared of it. And it’s a 

Hundred percent terrified  

Predominant thing that I do. I think it is. I think it’s because it’s so elusive as a practice. It’s  

Still, if you, if you think of it that way. Yeah, for sure.  

Right. Well, and I even, it’s a part of my practice and I still think of it as elusive. I, I, I literally, when I go into a cipher or a space where there is the expectation of some kind of product within my, within my freestyle, in my improvisations called different things in different spaces, I literally still feel like I’m invoking the muse. I feel like a Greek epic. I’m like, I don’t know what’ll happen. Amuse, maybe something will happen. I, you know, that’s why I feel that elusive. But, um, I think that part of that is because, I mean, there’s, there’s this different camps of thought. I mean, any, anyone can imp improvise with the body, with the voice, with the face, whatever it is, as a deaf direct response to sound, and that doesn’t have to be concomitant with any particular system or technique or form, but for those that are interested in growing within freestyle, generally they decide to prescribe to some system of rules.  Because when you prescribe to a system of rules, your focus can narrow narrow. And as a result, the infinite possibilities and the body can widen. And I think that freestyle is so elusive because you are expected to hold two different, equally important relationships at the same time. And one of those is a response to sound, because generally in, within a dance space, you are improvising to something you were hearing, right. Then you don’t want to ignore that. In my opinion, you don’t want to ignore the sound that you’re hearing, because it’s an equal participant in what’s happening. And then the other, the other relationship that’s being hold that’s equally as important is the relationship between your limbs and what’s physically being made manifest in the body. And, and you have to make decisions within both systems simultaneously in the space of a second. So it’s, it’s real time. It’s real time composition. My, one of my mentors disobey the Grimes is he, when he, when he talks about improvisation, he’s, it’s real time composition. And I think that’s  

Relevant fire decision-making rapid fire  

Decision making. It’s really hard. It requires a lot of active engagement and it, it, you cannot be passive. And a lot of other spaces that we train as dancers mentally, we are asked to be passive or, sorry. I wish I wouldn’t say that we’re asked to be passive. I would say that we’re not asked to be active. And as a result, sometimes the, the, the brain and decision making process is not involved in the school execution.  Especially once we get rehearsed into a work that has been drilled and drilled and drilled and drilled into to muscle memory. So that like almost by design so that you don’t have to think about it. You talked about the relationship to music. You talked about the relationship to your body, but I think there’s also, especially in social forms or in street styles where you aren’t freestyling by yourself, you are in a cipher. So you have the additional relationship to your audience. And if you aren’t a cipher, that’s a 360 degree audience. So to me, I put there, there’s this like pressure on me to look interesting and cool and capable and, and, and, and, and from 360 degrees, like, is that even possible? I, I, I try to think it is. So I think what you do when you teach freestyle techniques and concepts is you do a great job at limiting the infinite possibilities, so that decisions can be made quickly and not just with confidence, but with an element of play, it’s like this, um, free sailing turns into a game, which makes it so much more enjoyable to do and more enjoyable to watch.  

 Um, could you talk a little bit about some of those confines and limitations that you, that you present to your classes, or maybe even some others that you just hold for yourself, or that you’ve experimented with in a cipher, but you haven’t yet even, even put words to.  

Sure. So I teach generally if I’m teaching within the realm of improvisation, I’m teaching as influenced by two specific systems, and one of them is William foresights in improv technologies. And w for listeners, William Forsyth is a, in my opinion, brilliant man. And he has codified these sort of the set of improvisational modalities that are available on a DVD and CD room. They’re also, you can find them on YouTube  

And in show notes, for sure.  

Sure. Yeah. He codified them within the realm of contemporary ballet. I feel that that’s an accurate label for what his work was being viewed as at the time in Europe. So he named tools for improvising that he utilized within his company and he utilized within a language that at the time did not utilize improvisation often, if at all question, mark, I’m not, I don’t know. Yeah. I don’t want to, we weren’t there  Yet.  So, you know, a lot, a lot of the, a lot of the women were in point shoes even. And, you know, at the time that th there wasn’t there, it was not common to see this language side-by-side with improvisation. So in, in his tools, he utilizes ideas like point point line, which could be something which looks at relationships in the body. All of his things look at relationships within the body. So establishing arbitrarily a point on the body, let’s say my left shoulder, and another point in the body, my right shoulder, what are the different ways that you can draw lines between the two or a point on my body, the left shoulder, and a point in space, the top, right. Diagonal, what are the different ways in which you can draw imaginary lines between the two? And this idea is that if you, if you require of yourself adherence to a very narrow set of rules, the possibilities for physical manifestation become much larger than if you just said, I’m going to dance to the music now. Yes,  

This is exactly like, where are we going to dinner tonight? Any restaurant in Los Angeles or FA 

Right? Yeah. Suddenly, suddenly the possibilities become much more interesting and that the  

Decisions become  

The decision-making, the decision-making. And I think that his work was also interested in the audience being invited into, into watching the decision making process. For me. I think it’s very interesting to watch someone make physical decisions in real time, particularly if they are endeavoring to be very disciplined about a set of rules. So I think it’s really interesting to watch. So that was a long-winded on that, but that is one of the systems that I’m heavily influenced by the other, which is a yes, the other is a movement system called fundamental medic kinetics. And that is a movement system that was created conceptualized ever evolving by  Grimes. And I worked with him at USC Kaufman. He was one of the mentors and professors alongside that also Manuel Durden and Amy,  

 Who is a guest on the podcast episode so much good luck.  

So they have also heavily influenced my freestyle. But as a system, fundamental medic kinetics is the basis upon which I run any kind of class or workshop quote unquote. So that system, which is entirely rooted in black vernacular social practices is in rooted, is rooted in hip hop and hip hop as a set of methodologies and a larger culture and way of speaking, not to hip hop necessarily as the physical form that’s coming out, because I do facilitate workshops often to a demographic that does not a practitioner in hip hop as a physical form. So within, within that system, there are also improvisational techniques, ideas where you establish a small series of rules for yourself. You say, I have these points on the floor. I’m going to work with a two-step and what are all the different variants of a two-step that I can do within these confines? So I think that for me, in my own freestyle practice, it doesn’t, it almost doesn’t matter what technique you’re utilizing, as long as you, if you’re interested in working this way, as long as you just establish a set of parameters, a set of physical, very real parameters for yourself, either between different parts of the body or the body and space   For  The body. And music, think that the Valhalla bring that back. I love that  

 It might be terribly wrong, but I think I’m borrowing this from a, from an acting teacher. My favorite acting teacher, Gary Imhoff, who I’ve talked about a thousand times on the podcast, he has to just come on, but he used to use that as the moment this like, love it. Oh God, it is, it is what it is, but you can, do you feel like you can achieve that state through rules like this total contradiction, that freedom is achieved by, or by way of, I should say structure rules, perimeters,  


Do I do, but that’s not, that’s not everyone’s approach. I think the only way.  

Right. But I think that if you endeavor towards the practice of establishing rules for yourself regularly, then your opportunity for those moments of absolute freedom become much more frequent because you have more vocabulary from which to pull, even when within the practice of limiting yourself, then you have all the more room to express.  

Do you know what I love? I love most about your, um, way of teaching and over the quarantine, I got to dance with you virtually often think luckily for me and my body and heart and mind and soul and spirit and things, um, you mentioned vocabulary, and I see this as being a point that a lot of versatile in air quotes, dance studio, kids freak out when faced with the task of improvising or freestyling specifically in, uh, in a, uh, hip hop genre, you know, class we’ll call it or audition situation. They panic because they think they do not have the vocabulary to deliver freely in that space. What I love most about the way you teach is getting the body to a place where it is not reciting vocabulary from any genre or form of dance, but it is creating vocabulary that did not exist.  And that to me is what’s truly freestyle. I think there is a, you know, in the dance studio world, we teach like kick step, rock, kick, step, rock, kick, step, touch, kick, step touch, and the little arms with fists go like this. And, um, and that’s like, that’s what you do for like eight count of freestyle. And then you kick your leg and then you do the splits and then you stand up and you do backhand spring. And like all of a sudden 4, 8, 8 counts have gone by and it’s someone else’s turn. And you’re like, Ooh, I did it. I freaked out. Wow. And what I have been trying to achieve for myself and encourage my students is that, no, not yet. If you were still doing the moves that, you know, then you are not yet freestyling. It’s like, what’s next what’s after you’ve done all the vocabulary that you already know.  And what’s next is a true freestyle. Or that’s just for me in my mind, the way that I think of it. And sometimes it takes me six, eight counts to get there of like reciting all my favorite steps and like pulling out these little secret combinations that I have of moves that I love to do back to back. And it was like around jam and a part of a Ray and then across in a spin. And I’m like, okay, what’s next? And one of the techniques that we use in your class that’s helped me in my freestyle tremendously is this idea of an existing step. So existing vocabulary, and then deconstructed completely pulled apart, broken down and looked at for its parts. The individual pieces of let’s say, uh, uh, biz Markie hop, hip hop, hit broken down into its individual bits. You have arms, you have fists, you have an upward to downward motion. You have a T shape. You have both legs hopping at the same time, you have a relatively loose bend and then you have like a lean and a hammer motion. You have a twisting of the hips. You have a lifting of a heel and okay, all of those parts now go, what can you make with the twisting of a heel two fists, a T position, both legs hopping. And I’ll tell you 100%, it does not look like a biz Markie, whatever comes out from just those pieces.  

Well, I was, I was just going to say on that note, one of my, one of my first classes with bill with, with forsythe, he just held up his right forearm. And he said, this kids is an Arabic  

 okay. Oh my God, that’s one way I could get my leg above 90 is if my leg was actually my arm  

And his exactly. And that was his, his trajectory was, well, what are the components of an arrow? Beske a mathematical relationship at 90 degrees between one limb and the other air go. And then he, you know, within his system, he considers these isometry, but air go. I could hold my, my bicep and form and I need degrees. And why is that? Not an arabesque who knows?  

 Oh, I love challenging. And asking all these questions is so much fun for me. Right. This conversation makes me want to dance. Um, okay. So we talked a little bit about like relationships of body parts to each other relationship, to the music relationship to audience or eyeballs or communities like, you know, but I think the social element is an important component too. Not just the, like the execution of this dance, but specifically the culture. It is about groups of people. Um, I don’t know, actually, would you challenge that? Would you say it’s about the individual? What is it about  

Freestyle specifically? Well, I mean, I think it think it entirely depends on the space that you’re in is similar, similar to the idea that freestyle is what happens beyond the form. I would agree to the extent that there is consciousness about the space that you’re in, because there are, there are spaces in which some kind of reverence to a form or  

Are expected and required and  

Required. Right? Yeah. Well, so I think it, I mean, I think it depends on the space. I think that freestyle could be, it could be about the individual to the extent that you want to release, or you need some kind of catharsis for me. It’s I have been in spaces where it’s easy to dance alone to, to train that alone. And then I’ve been in seasons where it’s very difficult for me to dance alone. I, I find that it is, um, much more, no, I haven’t, I don’t think motivating is the word I’m looking for, but that’s what I’ll  

Say. Inspiring, compelling,  

Inspiring, compelling to be endeavoring towards these systems and these rules and these parameters amongst others. Because, because it, it can be so elusive the possibilities in the body. It is for me, very helpful to watch other bodies.  

Oh my gosh. It’s so informative. It’s right. As, just as much as I like, as well as receiving a task from the teacher or from myself, I can look to my right or look to my left and there are four more tasks, options, challenges, proposals, options, um, to, I don’t like this word feed off of someone’s very carnivorous. Um, but to inform you yeah, to inform and to evolve, to share, um, to me, that’s why I think I say that it’s about community versus about the individual. But as in that moment, if there is one person in the cipher, it is so cool that it is so singularly about them. It is like, that is very cool. And I think in dance, at least where we live and dance in the entertainment industry, it’s more common than not that dance is a background feature. Um, then like a portal into one person’s soul, uh, which is what it can, which is what it was that night funk box. I was like, oh, I know that girl. Now I know her.  

And, and if you, if you engage in a cipher with that same witnessing practice then than it is all of these things, it’s catharsis, it’s release. It’s, it’s a social expression, it’s engagement, but it is possible to be very passive in, in a cipher. And that is when it’s a circle as a dance circle, it’s not a cipher. And this is a thing that, um, that surveillance talks about within the system is the difference between a dance circle and a dance cypher is the, there’s not a participant observer line when you are. And I think this is if you are freestyling and improvising in a social context, I think that this is very important, which is that the person that is actively manifesting these physical parameters is not the only one that’s active. There, there is a witnessing practice happening that is as important as informative and as imperative to the growth that’s happening simultaneously.  And there’s, there’s an amount of call and response that happens in the body, maybe in the voice. And you see those, you see those expressive modalities much more in social dance forms in black social dance forms and hip hop in different forms under the umbrella of hip hop. But I do find that when I facilitate workshops, fundamental workshops with demographics of people that are not as versed or just haven’t had time in these forums, sometimes I really need to spend time cultivating and teaching the witnessing practice because that is not, it’s not intuitive for different communities.  

So glad you brought this up. I am so glad you brought this up. I think a lot of the people listening are focused on themselves. Free-styling well, in the moment where they’re in the circle, I don’t think listening to this conversation up to this point, people have been wondering for themselves, how can I be a better witness? How can I facilitate, um, this like spiritual moment that is dancing in a cipher? I don’t think, I don’t think anybody had that at the top of their mind. I certainly didn’t when we started this conversation and it’s so important and I, yeah, you can’t teach people how to care or you can’t teach people how to be interested, but you can show as an example, that that’s what this is built for this moment is built for this feeling, this exchange, this type of support, um, that, yeah, that the cipher isn’t intended for someone to be Beyonce for four, eight counts, and then fade into the abyss while somebody else takes over being the start. That’s not what it’s about.  

And that’s not, that’s not helpful to anyone. If you extend yourself to really see another person watching another person, but really see them, then more entry point into the cipher is going to feel much more intuitive. It’s going to feel much more informed. You will have just taken in physical information that you can then work with and would have contributed energy that just is going to facilitate reciprocity. And it’s going to feel better when you were in there. So I think it’s a million reasons why, but it’s, it’s imperative to have some kind of witnessing practice. And it is, it’s hard. It’s hard to remember. I mean, you know, you just remind yourself as hard as it is, especially if you’re getting  

The competition kid. Who’s used to like the idea of win of there being a winner and a loser,  

Right. Or, I mean, even if you do engage in these forms, I mean, I I’ve, I’ve definitely been in moments with people that are all speaking from a vocabulary that is a street dance form. And I  

Not a cipher and it’s, you know, and that’s okay. Sometimes it’s not the time for a cipher, but you know, I think it, yeah, it can be easy to forget about that witnessing practice for sure.  

Oh, I love it. Um, great. Okay. So we’ve talked about a lot of different relationships. I, I would be totally remiss if I let you go without talking about this one very important relationship that I am still wrestling with a little bit, even despite, um, the lovely smack migraines assistance on this front. She taught me how to use tick-tock and I am still, I am not drawn to it. It’s not where my hand goes when I reach for my phone. Um, I just don’t, it’s not, it’s like, I don’t know what it is. I have thoughts about it, but you have a unique relationship with tick-tock in my view, um, because you rarely use it to, uh, I’ll just use the words that I know, like jump on a trend. Um, you are using it as a source of income. You think of it professionally. You think of it, uh, with, um, um, an entrepreneurial position and mindset. And I’m so curious about how you fostered that, um, where you stand with it now, where you see it going  

Such good question  

Here. It goes part two of the interview, by the way, because yeah, this is a lot, sorry. Maybe we start with, like, how did you begin your tick talk relationship?  

 Um, my, uh, my boyfriend got me onto tick-tock. He was telling me for months that I had to get on tick-tock and I fought so hard.  

Why do we fight?  

Because my perception was that I actually, I didn’t have any informed perception at all. I had a very, I had a very, or like, yeah, I sounded like my grandpa when he talks about kids these days, kids I had, that was my, that was me too. My narrative was that that is for that’s for 15 year olds, that it it’s not real dance. This was also my narrative. I don’t need that sort of all these narratives that I told myself that were not informed at all. And then at the same time, this was during the pandemic. I was running these what we call funky Tuesdays, and we danced together virtually. And I was, I was facilitating these, these workshops and I realized how remiss I would be if I didn’t acknowledge that  

Dances that are going on in that  

Space, the social dances right now, that is a proliferation tool in the midst of a pandemic when people don’t have the same capacity to meet in person. And I thought, oh my God, how, how close minded I would have to be to engage in social dance practices and not recognize the platform as being a really active. And I think, and I, you know, I even noticed like if you can engage in ciphers now, there are, there is a set of moves of vocabulary that is coming out of the app that, that, that are being referenced in promissory rounds. If you cannot speak that language, then you miss out on the reference. And I, and I thought, my God, why would I, why would I not  Myself, out of that conversation. So I spent the first four months on Tik TOK researching. I just, I saw it as being a visitor, just snooping around.  And I, I curated my algorithm very specifically, and I made sure that I was trying to watch trends that were happening, but really trying to delve and figure out who maybe really introduced the trend, because it was often not the person that was getting all the views. And what are the ways in which different trends lose or gain movement nuances based off who is doing them and video blows up more. So I spent a lot of time just, just sort of researching on the app. And then, you know, my, my boyfriend was in my ear. Like, why, why wouldn’t you jump on that? Why, why wouldn’t you dance? And so when I was, when I was getting back into rehabbing my knee and starting to dance and just started making videos and I, and I, I didn’t do, I think I would use trending sounds, but I, for a very long time avoided any sort of dance or physical trend. And that wasn’t, that wasn’t a statement of any kind. I just, I just didn’t do them. Part of, part of it, I think was I was uninterested in it. Um, part of it was, they were hard. Some of them are coordinative leave very difficult for me. I’m a really hard,  

Technically it’s hard for me. Like I can work my way around the Adobe suite, way more easily than I can get around. And tick-tock, it’s like, so dead ass, easy. That it’s hard for me. Cause I’ve worked so hard to be able to do hard stuff that I it’s like sometimes simple things, right. Can leave me like literally on my knees. Like how do, how is it, how is it possible? It’s so easy. And yet I can’t do it right.  

But I have started doing more trends sometimes. And I have, have you used that, that moment to, to invoke my analytical eye? And I have thought I’ve tried to reframe my narrative from, well, I’m not the trends to will. This trend is actually really hard if I download the video and then what I’ll do, I’ll literally, some of these are really hard for me. I’ll download the video from sex talk and then I’ll put it like in a little editing app and put it in slow motion and then I’ll watch the quality is doing and same way that we would talk about Lavonne, characteristics of movement, I will say, okay, well what’s actually happening in the body here. Why is this? Oh my God. It took me forever to hit the whoa,  

Oh my God, me too. Only just now. And it’s been gone, it’s been gone. And yet I still, I will throw it into verbal conversations because I finally feel it in my body now.  

Right. So, and it, I think that there’s, there’s the opportunity to really say, well, what’s the body doing? How can I think it can be used as a training module? I spent hours the other day. It was just three videos. It took me like four hours because I was really looking at them and I was going, well, why does this look so much cooler? And people say, oh, well it looks really cool. Like, well, why does it look cooler? What’s happening in their shoulder as it pertains their elbow while they’re maintaining a frontal facing relationship and being performative in the face because that’s important in an app like that as well. Oh,  

Yeah. I think there’s so much information and, uh, an approach that can be highly productive to the app and it takes a lot of work to do that. And I don’t do that all the time. Sometimes it really feels like a lot of work, but I think that there’s a way to approach things like that, that, that really, that really grant weight to, to how they’re socially making dance accessible. I mean, in the way that you love this, you know, it’s this changing the game for dance and in, in, you know, good ways and bad ways. And I think that there’s a conversation to be had about credit and how dances are proliferating and like who, what bodies are proliferating on. But I think that there’s also a lot of really positive things to say from my perspective about the app,  How do you use it to make money?  

The app itself, monetizes creators, uh, past a certain follower count. So I, and I don’t remember what that was, but I’ve been receiving monthly purviews payments for maybe almost eight, well, a little under a year.

Now this is  something that everybody should be thinking about. Well, Arden is saying these words, how is a free app paying its creators per view?  

I feel he’s assumed its ad revenue. No,  

And I think that’s the, I think that’s the PG version for sure. Um, I think that the terms and conditions that we agree to when we download the app, give them permission to sell our personal information. I think that information about you while you are using the app and even while you are not, is probably being sold to make you an easier target to marketing on and off the app. So that’s something to think about. I have a cautious position on this specifically because I have a husband who is far deeper in the know than I am in that very, very naive explanation I just gave, but it is something like there’s so much money there that I think it’s important. People engage with knowing that this is a transaction, um, that it, it feels rewarding because you are getting a check, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are the winner and that you have nothing to lose. So just, uh, some words of caution. Um, do you, do you think of yourself as taking your relationship with the app further? Is your, do you have a conscious, um, do you have a conscious drive towards increasing followship and view counts? And if so, how do you do that?  

 Yes. In theory in practice, the, the ways that I know to attempt to increase followship, followership, whoa,  

 I think I call it follow. I think I call it the fellowship of the ring, the Lord of the rings and the fellowship. Keep going. I’m sorry. I will reference the Lord of the rings at least every other episode. So it’s a given.  

Yeah. I think that the ways that I know how to do that sometimes feel like a lot of work. So, but in theory, yes, I do. And the reason for that is more followers generally is more views, but generally is more money. And, and the, the secondary way that I have monetized, which is larger than the actual revenue that I’m getting, oftentimes that revenue is, is pretty arbitrary. The other way that I’ve monetized is that I have gotten gigs off my social media presence. I have also received a lot of inquiries about teaching social media, these kind of tangental money-making opportunities.  

Right. And it does, you know, it presents itself as essentially a very accessible portfolio of work. For sure.  

For sure. Definitely cannot argue with that. Right.  

So I would say, I would say, yes, I am engaged in growing my followers, but not, not to the level that it is my sole focus. I think it take, I am constantly impressed with, with people that make social media, their full-time job. I think it requires a lot of consciousness about mental health and a lot of really brilliant time management and a very analytical, I think a lot of we’ll look at influencers. Maybe, maybe this is a gross exaggeration. I don’t know. I have heard rhetoric around influencers that, oh, well, they’re, they’re not famous for anything. They didn’t have a scale. And I would challenge that. And I would say that their skill is really incredible entrepreneurship and people skills. I would say that there is the ability to recognize what people will watch, and that is an incredible skill and make that stuff like, identify this thing, we’ll call it taste or the moment you have to actually be ahead of it somewhat. So that by the time you’re producing stuff and hitting send or hitting share you’re right on it, timing and interpersonal skills taste, all of it factors in. And then for sure, as you mentioned a resilience in terms of your time, um, uh, resilience in terms of the feedback, like we’ve never known the internet to be a particularly friendly place. Have we it’s yeah. A lot of love and a lot of, a lot of hate. Um, it’s, it’s not been a place that I enjoy being much lately and that’s okay. I liked something you said earlier the season of your life, um, freestyling together or, uh, or solo and in certain seasons, it’s easier to dance alone than others. Um, I think for certain, in certain seasons, it’s easier for me to engage on social media than in others.  

Right. I’m having a hibernation at the moment. And I think that that’s, I know that it’s not going anywhere. I know that it is actually actively designed to hijack my time and attention. And as long as I remember that I am in charge of whether or not I grabbed my phone. Um, I feel empowered when I do it. And I usually, I wind up enjoying myself there, especially when I see people like you doing the things that you do and man, it you’re right. I, I do think it’s a gift. Um, so thank you for sharing that, your perspective on Tik Tok and on freestyle and dance and learning in general, man. I just think the world of you, I could talk for hours. Um, but man cannot. Thank you enough. Thank you so much for being here today.  It was lovely talking to you. We both have the gift   Of gab. Oh my God. Words about dance. That’s where the podcasts could be called. Dana talks forever about dance. Well, we can do weekends with friends, but sometimes I do it by myself. Sometimes I jump in here is just me and I can get up. Oh, I can go. Um, so thank you for riffing with me today. You’re fascinating. And uh, I will be sure to link to Arden her. Tick-tock her Instagram more places to find her and her classes. Are you still funky Tuesday or no,  

I’m not. I, it, it works so well during the pandemic when everyone was like, yeah, it’s intermittent now.  

Copy that. Well, I will make sure all my listeners know where to find you. I’m so glad that I have. Yes. Thank you for being here. My friend, I’ll talk to you soon. 

Thank you. Bye

Dana: Well, there you have it. My friend, the mastermind in the master mover, Arden Flint, men, woof. It was so much fun to revisit my Laban technique. And oh, I especially loved hearing about the difference between a circle and a cipher, the importance of contributing to a collective energy by being an active witness that is so important. And I think in general, after listening to this conversation, again, I’m inspired to be more active in more ways more active in general. Arden is such a great example of the way that working hard pays off and the way that working hard can sometimes lead to injury. Um, some, some very human human stuff in there. And I love that episode so much. Uh, I hope you did too. And if you would like to find more art in, um, and even train with her, which I highly recommend you do, all of her socials are linked in the show notes of this episode.  And she will be teaching, um, for the new year’s training camp, which is December 28th through 30th of 2021. So if you’re listening to this on the day of its release, you can definitely find yourself enrolled there. I will link to enrollment, um, in the show notes as well. And one final note before you get on your funky way, this is important because tos the holiday season, and I have majorly stocked up my store with Merck and coaching opportunities. I’m now offering one-on-one Alec Hart coaching for 30 minutes and virtual self-tape companionship. Like I will be there sort of virtually with you while you do your self-tapes. I’m also offering words that move me memberships and tons of other fun stuff. And, and, and if you act no kidding, um, but if you act before the end of December, you can get 25% off your annual membership to the words that move me community by using the coupon code, unconditional love, no spaces, capital U capital L unconditional love capitals for the, for the words, no spaces, um, uh, use that coupon code at checkout and you’ll get 25% off your annual membership that that coupon code only applies to annual memberships.  Um, but to be honest, that’s really, really where the most value lives in terms of my online store, unless you really, really, really love stickers in which case I got you. Got you. Uh, so get into that, get into the annual memberships at 25% off using unconditional love as your coupon code and, uh, get the rest of your holiday shopping done as well. Oh, oh, oh. And, or, and, or you can tell your loved ones who might be wondering what to gift you this holiday season to visit the shop because there’s so much good stuff in there. Good coaching, good tools, good training and good objects, good objects, merchandise. That’s all I’m saying. The Dana wilson.com/shop is where you can go to get all of your holiday shopping. Then the Dana wilson.com/shop go shopping, go out there into the world. And of course, keep it very funky. I’ll talk to you soon.

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

Ep. #102 Ep. #102 Directing Operations (of the worlds largest commercial dance franchise) with Jin Lee

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #102 Ep. #102 Directing Operations (of the worlds largest commercial dance franchise) with Jin Lee

Wowza, our guest today is not a dancer or choreographer, but if are, chances are she has impacted your life in some way… probably a BIG way.  Jin Lee has been the Director of operations of  Millennium Dance Complex for over 20 years. In this episode, we talk about getting the studio out of debt and through the pandemic, the impact social media has on the people that come through their door, and… having/not having babies!  We talk a lot about following your guts and getting organized, so if you’re looking to get into the business and keep it all together, this episode is for you!





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

Dana: Hello Hello, my friends. Welcome. I’m Dana. This is words that move me so, so glad that you are here today. And I am so, so excited to be talking to a very old friend on this episode. Um, this, this special guest is not a dancer, but if you are a dancer, especially here in Los Angeles, chances are that she, and certainly her work have had a huge impact on you today. I am talking with Jin Lee, the director of operations at millennium dance complex. Yes, y’all. This is big and I cannot wait to share, but first wins. Oh, I’m excited about this one. Y’all this is, this is even better than the Superbowl commercial, really, truly in my heart. When I balance the two, this is big today. I am celebrating that. I am an official dog nanny, which sounds really funny is one word, Doug nanny to the greatest dog on the planet, not your dog, Mimi caves, dog, all live.  

Speaker 1    00:01:53    It’s really you guys really I’m being very spoiled by taking care of this dog because she’s the sweetest thing loves the cuddle. Just, you know, does all the right things. It doesn’t do any of the wrong things like pee or poop in the house, or I don’t. I chew on things. I don’t know. She’s just very quiet, very calm, such a love. Um, you’re going to hear a little bit more about her and my thoughts about dogs in this episode today. Oh my goodness. You’ll also hear my thoughts about babies, which might surprise you. Um, but anyways, for those of you who know me having a dog is a big deal. So this is a major step for me. Um, dog, nanny, dog, winning, super stoked about that. Also I do want to say here in this wins segment, we are working on a way of incorporating your wins into the show.  

I always ask you, what’s going well in your world and you hopefully say it to yourself, but, um, I’ve had so many of you sending your wins into me via voice note on Instagram. Please keep them coming. And, but I don’t actually have a way to, um, transfer the voice note from Instagram into any other application. So right now we’re kind of bottleneck, but keep sending the wins, um, because I will find a way to get them on the show. I just, man, maybe don’t send them in Instagram message of, sorry. I don’t have a clear plan yet. Stay tuned. Send me your wins. Any which way you please Instagram DM. That’s fine. I’ll find a way email. W T M M as in words, that move me, but don’t spell it. W T M M podcast@gmail.com is another way to send your wins in. I do want to be shouting y’all out on the pod. So do keep winning. Keep sending your wins and congratulations in advance. All right now. Okay. That was me and the preface about future audience wins. But now it is your turn listener. Tell me, tell me yourself or whoever is nearby right now. What is going well in your world?  

Congratulations, my friend. Now keep saying them. Keep sending them, stay loud and proud. Keep winning, so happy for you. And if you aren’t already winning, this is a good segue. This episode might be a bump in the direction of winning because Jen and I are about to go in on what makes good business good, right? Making decisions, getting organized, getting with the right people, uh, getting over yourself and honestly getting over other people. Lots of good stuff. Lots of straight talk. Ooh, which reminds me, Jen and I are both spirited types who call on spirited adult language. So if you have littles nearby, perhaps this is one for the headphones. Uh, you can wear headphones or they can wear headphones or you can both wear headphones. I’m wearing headphones right now. I’m moving on my friends. Please enjoy this conversation with the fabulous Jin Lee.  

Dana: All right. I think we’re doing it. Jen Lee. Welcome to words that move me. How are you? My friend. 

Jin: Oh, good. How are you Dana?

Dana: I’m good. I’m good. In, in the, in the pre-show chit-chat Jen and I were talking about our dogs. Um, but now we’re going to talk about ourselves, Jen. I’m so excited. You’re here. I, I feel like I see you in passing maybe once a month and during COVID times nonce a month. Um, so we never get to go any, any deeper than the very tip of the iceberg. Hellos. How are you? So I’m excited. I’m excited to dig in a little bit, uh, protocol, common protocol on the podcast is that all my guests introduce themselves. Some love it, some hate it, but, um, I will yield the floor and let you simply tell us anything you want us to know about you us by the way is me and listeners, because it kind of is kind of deceiving when we’re just looking at each other. Yeah. What’d you get?  

Jin: So my name is Jen Lee. I am the director of operations over at millennium dance complex. I have been running the studio for over 20 years.  

That was one of my, one of my 20 questions.

Um, yeah, I mean, short and sweet. Okay.  

Okay. I love it. Oh, well, we’re going to get, we’re going to get into deep and that’s still sweet at least I think, but we’ll find out. Um, I started working at millennium in 2005, so 16 years ago. Um, and I was teaching an adult ballet class on Saturday mornings. I started as a sub. You probably recall. And then I had my own adult ballet class, which work. It was my favorite time out of the whole week. Um, so at that point, had you been there for just several years? Do you remember that time? Very well.  

Dana, everything’s such a blur.  

Oh gosh, this just this past year has been a blur, a little loan,  

I noticed that I remember certain aspects of like the earlier years, but a lot of them like, I’ve, I’ve actually forgotten a lot of stuff. I mean, I started when I was like, here was that 2000, 2000? Yeah, I started at, yeah.  

Was your role at the time director of operations?  

No, not at all. So here is how this all came about, um, History with millennium. Um, so I actually like never wanted to be in the arts whatsoever. My growing up Korean having a Korean father. He’s like, you’re either going to be a doctor or a lawyer and I hated school. I’m like, there’s no way I’m going to go to school for that long and get in debt. You know, my dad has always owned a business. He’s always had restaurants and bars and there goes my dog.  

Yes. I loved the dog element of the podcast. Really excited.  

He’s such a buzz. Um, but anyways, going back to, um, so I never saw myself in the arts industry at all because I sort of wanted to either like run my own thing, you know, entrepreneur business and or who knows, you know, I was fairly young.  

You are going for other, just not Dr.

Yeah. Um, I love, I used to love photography though. So I love taking pictures when I was growing up and always in night, I thought I was pretty good at it. So I think at the age of 19, I decided I’m like, you know what, I’m just going to try this out. Who cares if it doesn’t work out? So I ended up going to school for photography, got super into it for two years. And I ended up getting an internship with a fashion photographer. So that same exact day, um, somebody had told me about Robert and Ann Marie and millennium dance complex. I’m like, I don’t even know that world. What is that world? Just because I’m like dancers,  

Dancers make great subjects,  

Right? Like just when I heard about like what they do there, I was very intrigued. So, but he was looking for an assistant at the time. Um, Robert was so Robert and, and, and, and  

Robert and Ann are the owners,  

Correct. They’re the owners of the studio, but this is a long story, by the way, they were the owners of the studio. Um, they were the owners of the studio at the time. And  

At Morolandis though, or was it millennium  

No, it was morolandis ways before when Ann Marie was, uh, running the show at moral Landis. So she is the originator  So Robert Baker, he was a producer. So he was doing film and television. They ended up getting pregnant with Luke and, and wanted to spend time being a mom. And, you know, like just do that and not deal with the studio stuff. So Robert sort of, you know, started taking over and doing day to day operations, this and that. And they ended up moving to millennium and he started bringing in, you know, the celeb aspect of it. Yeah. I don’t know if you remember Robert back in the day, like the nicest guy. Yes. With everybody here you go free this free, that how, you know, take all the dance classes, you know, he’s a great person, um, great human being and, um, you know, the behind the scenes, they had a bunch of record labels that owed them money for,  

Oh my goodness, wait, record labels, owing people, money don’t believe it.  

So he needed an assistant at the time. And you know, there, they decided like, Hey, you know, he had a friend of a friend that was a mutual friend of mine also. And so she basically just told me like, oh, Hey, by the way, I don’t know why I thought of you, but I think you would really get along with this guy. And he’s looking for an assistant and I think you’d like the company amazing. So I ended up going on an interview and I had an interview with my fashion photographer on the same day I did back-to-back interviews. I went to the fashion photographer, interview book that, and then Everything, the, and then when I met with Robert, I saw the studio and you know what it’s like at the studio in It, it’s not like the nicest studio, but the old studio space you walk in, but there’s an energy, I think,  

Buzzes it totally buzzes. And that the old one on Lankershim in the hallways. And you, so you had to connect with people, you know, like by default of going in and out touched like you were in contact. Oh my gosh. Yes.  

Oh my gosh. And as soon as I walked in, I was like, I don’t know what this place is, but I sold a lot of it. And as soon as I met Robert and like shook his hand, there was just an energy about him and him and I just fucking clicked. I didn’t even have to like make a decision within five minutes of talking with him. I was like, you know what, I’m going to go with him just because I saw the future of how this could be. And I saw my future of, I know there was potential there, you know, w working that job with Robert. And the first thing that I did when I started with millennium was I noticed how a lot of people owed him a lot of money. I mean, the invoices of rehearsal space that was being used and who remember those days, Dana, I mean, we had, J-Lo there for four months doing parcels for tour Britain,  

With JT in their own time.  

And it was like months and months. And of course that stuff all adds up over a hundred thousand dollars worth of rental invoices not  

Has to  

Wow. Paid. I was astounded. And so at the time Robert had this one guy, I forget his name, but he had one person coming in once a week to call about,  

Oh no, no, that’s not how we make change.  

I’m like, this is going to be my job for the first, like three months.  

You were all bloodhound.  

Oh yeah.  

So good at it. Well, yes. Cause you’re direct. These are facts. The fact is you’re past.  

Yes. And that’s it. But you, you know, with collections is you just have to be on, on top of them. And it’s not like they, sometimes of course they didn’t want to pay because you know, whatever the case may be, their budget was all, you know, sorry, we don’t have any more. We spent it all like, oh, well  

That’s your problem.  

 Right. So within the first three months I collected over $80,000 for that.  

 Okay. You earned your keep. And then Robert was like, you’re promoted.  

It basically was like, you know what? This is the best thing you’re in. I want you to help me run the studio. Here’s a title. And I want you to help me. Yeah. And you know, back then, Robert was there full time. I mean, we used to be a 24 hour rental facility. Like I remember pink used to want to only rent after hours. And it was literally from 12 to like 3:00 AM there. It was Robert. And he used to just be there constantly, you know, when the studio closed the studio. So of course he needed a lot of help. And, you know, I sort of came in and sort of cleaned house with the front desk. Staff got a little organized with our work study scholarship program that we have there. And we started like, you know, building getting organized, like having, having, you know, you needs, you need help when you want to grow a company, you always need to hire on people that know what they’re doing. Not that I knew what I was doing at the time, but you know, it was like a 

Broker type person that figures it out.  


And I, I’ve never had a job Dana, where I’ve actually been like, I enjoy going to work. You know, I really do, because I know there might be trauma. Like I’ve, you know, of course customer service, you’re always going to deal with like that nasty customer. But at the end of the day, like overall, like I get to see beautiful dancers, like just creating and doing their thing and like, how can I not be happy with,  

 Oh my gosh, that’s the one that’s what comes in and out of, of your door every day. It’s not people like buying goods. It’s people investing in themselves and in the future of dance and entertainment kind of at large, um, it is a special thing to be a part of that you feel it,  

It was special. It’s so special. And just, and the students that come in and just the training that used to take place versus now like, Hmm. Okay. Holy smokes. You know, I want to talk about it. You know, I want to talk about it. I mean, I I’ve heard a lot of people say that cameras changed dance class, like cameras changed training. I have thoughts about that. Um, what do you think was the biggest shift in, and then, and then, and now,  

I mean, definitely social media, for sure. But that’s, that’s a given, but one of the things that I did notice just the years, the decades at the, you know, into dance studio, I noticed how dancers now, like back in the day, you guys like really trained, you were there every day, like training, training, training. But now, I mean, some of these dancers are like fucking sponges. Yeah. Oh my God, you go into one dance class and they’re like, they copy the moves. It’s literally appalling. I’m like, how long has this person been training for? And it hasn’t been that long. They’re just naturally gifted. You think? So? I do. Yeah. It’s weird though, because I’m like, I don’t know if it’s a gift or if they can just mimic or if they can just, they’re good at copy.  

You’ve heard of it, but do you know what I think it is as well, and this is not to toot your horn or the horn of social media, but I think teachers have gotten better. And this is not that people didn’t use to teach the shit out of dance class. I mean, my, my training regimen, I would not change an ounce of, I mean, the Mandy, Moore’s the Helene Phillips, Trovaris Wilson. Um, uh, Marty, you know, I was in Marty’s class, all, any, and all the times I think training has improved because those people taught more people how to teach, how to be great teachers. So part of is part of it is exposure and seeing things. But the other part is like, Marty’s generation also like jumped on convention. So they’re traveling the whole country, America anyways, gets to see them at least once a year. And then there’s the next generation that also teach non-conventional all the time. So they get them and me and my generation two times, four times a year, mix that with going to millennium or making a trip to LA well for a couple of weeks. And then you guys franchised. So that scale of education is so much more available. Now. I think students are better because the education available is better. Yeah,  

Definitely. And with social media, like, I don’t know how  

They’re just exposed to it.  

Yeah, of course. And I mean, you remember back in the day too, like, I mean, there weren’t that many dancers. Right. I want to see the statistics Yeah. Versus now So much more.  

Well, it’s funny because I don’t try, I don’t train as much anymore. I’m 35 now. And so the last time I went to an in-person audition, I can’t even remember the last time I went to take class at millennium. I was like, oh, I know no one, like I know nobody. It was the most surreal feeling. So, but yeah, there, there are boatloads every day. I’m assuming, because dance, I think has never been more popular.  

Yeah. I think dance is getting, and that’s the greatest thing is dance has finally been totally seen as, you know what, this is, this can be a career, you know, back then it was like, yeah, unless you were that super talented backup dancer booking that tour, you know? And then with, so you think you in dance, I think had a big thing with  

Huge impact.  

Cause they, I mean, it was everywhere. You know, people saw how talented dancers are and I think jobs became more available for dancers. So it is definitely a great thing in the dance community. I mean, now it’s a little different of course, with COVID and that hitting. But I still see like so many dancers, like these young kids from 

New faces all the time, 

new faces from Baltimore,  You know, class cards, new registration, she  Just moved out. She’s like, I just moved out to LA. I want to pursue my dance career.  

You’re like, that’ll be $25.  

 I’m like, it’s such a trip.  

 I know, I love it. I mean, I you’re catching me on a, I’m babysitting a dog this week. I’m feeling rosy. I’m wearing a raspberry Baret. I am feeling very funky and uh, light, but I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s a good thing to have, uh, a large and enthusiastic community. It can be tough on the education front. Um, helping a young workforce become acquainted with the progress that’s been made by, by elder generations in terms of, I’ll say being organized in general, but talking about professionalism, um, it can be hard to keep, to keep a large community educated all the time when there’s the return rate is so fast. Um, but I think it’s an asset, but we can talk a little bit more about why in a second, but I want to ask I’m backing up a little bit. Cause I’m fascinated. You mentioned in the early, early days, being able to see a future with this company and feeling like this is going to be big. This is going to, this is going to go somewhere. I can be a part of it. I want to, I want to be a part of it is the future that you imagined then anything at all? Like what is happening?  

Yeah, for sure. Like I knew that this company was headed that way. I give, we worked, it worked hard and I mean just, you know what it’s like in the dance industry, like there isn’t that many dance studios out there that are as established as millennia professionals at a professional level, you know, of course where the professional dancers come teach, train, do it all, you know, like rehearse. Like I knew that franchise was going to be, I totally saw it. And from the beginning actually did it like, wow. Yeah.  

So you were deliberately working towards the franchise thing.  

That’s something that we have always discussed back at the house. You know, that’s always been a dream, definitely, but we never knew how to make it come to fruition. But it was also one of those things with this one thing about millennium and Anna and Robert, what, especially Ann Marie, she, things just come at the best time. Timing is  


Yeah. She is very Like the magic of  because not a lot of people know her because she’s not around the studio. Of course, a lot, you know, she had Luke and then, you know, I forget how, how, what the age differences. And then she had the twins, you know, Sean and Avalon. And she had them a little bit at a later age. I think she was 42 at the time when she had Sean Inovalon. So, you know, she was busy, three kids. Good, lower  I’m Jin, I’m a single human person. I mean, I’m a married human person, but I’m one body. I have a dog in the other room right now and I’m perspiring all day. Okay. Are they hungry? Do they need to poop? Do they need to pee? Do I have enough money for this? Like it really, that whole thing.  It’s fascinating. I can’t, it  

You’re like, no, give me, let me just be the director of the biggest franchise, professional dance studio in the world. And I’m fine. I’m good with that.  

This is why I don’t want kids. Dana. I am. 

Yeah. And on board with you, do you, do you feel like you’re getting pressure about that?  

No. Okay. My boo and I are on the same boat  

And I mine, mine and me and mine. Yes. It is definitely helpful.  

It’s so helpful because I I couldn’t imagine, like, if he did want kids, like I would second guess it. And I’m like, no, I don’t want that. Like, if I don’t want them, I’m not going to have them, but he is so on the same boat, we’re going to just rescue dogs for the rest of our lives. I don’t know they with that.  

Oh my gosh. That’s awesome. If you ever need a dog sitter, I like to, I don’t know if I can take on multiple at once because my stress level with the single one dog, uh, but maybe I’ll get there. I do have, I do have the aptitude for growth and self-improvement maybe I’ll become a multiple dog owner someday. Um, okay. So that’s cool. I agree. And I have noticed something odd and I don’t think I’ve ever talked about this on the podcast, but my husband is a multi-type. He has many things. He is an extremely technical person. He is not a dancer, but he is more of an artist than most of the quote unquote artists that I know. Um, he graduated with his degree in sculpture. He went to pursue a PhD in visual neuroscience. He now is a rapid prototyping specialist who does cameras, displays lenses, light camera, arrays, all sorts of very cool optical stuff and cool general stuff.  He does very cool stuff. And I am surprised actually, that in his kind of world of colleagues and friends, he has more examples of people, um, kind of doing the check, the boxes where, you know, they’re a young, single person doing really awesome and interesting work. And then they start dating someone seriously, and then they get married and then they get a house and then they have kids and then they have a van and then they stop doing interesting work. Oddly enough, you would expect the same to be true for women like me, but it isn’t actually, I have so many great examples of women who, you know, check the boxes, got the husband, got the house, got, maybe got the van who knows and had the kids and are still crushing. So I, I didn’t really feel the pressure that it was like one or the other have kids or have a career.  Um, I have I have great examples. You look at Napoleon and Tabitha, you look at Alison and Twitch. You don’t look at, I mean, I know a lot of women with kids that are still crushing it in the game. And so it wasn’t that pressure at all. I really feel like my body and my time and my money, I like the way they are. And people keep telling me it’ll change. You’re going to feel it one day, you should freeze your eggs. Like you keep saying that, but I am 35. I haven’t felt it yet. And I’m going to stick with my guts, my, my, my small guts that have not yet been destroyed, human life Creole on there, which is where babies happen. Everyone in your guts to soon, you know, you’re getting the technical breakdown here. Oh, interesting. Okay. I love that. I know that about you now. I love you.  

 Can’t have babies. I think it’s great. Yeah. Say that again. No, I love that. We share those. Yeah. It doesn’t surprise me at all. I, I seriously, well, you’ve heard me now talk about dogs 18 times, but when I walked down the street and a baby passes, I’m like, oh, look, I’m a small person, but a dog passes. And I’m like, oh my God, beep beep beep I will trot off to go follow this little. I I’m a dog person, not a baby person. I do have nieces. And I love them very much. They are not listening because they’re four and seven 11 nieces. Okay. Okay. Let’s let’s refocus. Now. Not that talking about babies is not a, is a bad thing. I think this is a good thing. Um, but I am seriously curious because after starting the podcast, I started a, uh, community that sort of grew from this, this kind of bundle of loyal listeners who I decided to connect more with, like on, in a, I almost said face-to-face, which is cute screen to screen level.  

So now I have a small community of, you know, people interested in creative careers and I know not all of them want to become backup dancers. Not all of them want to become, you know, choreographers or master teachers or teaching on a convention. But they all have a similar skillset, which is like dance. Most of them is, have been dancing for a long time, but they’re also they’re leaders and they’re oddballs and they don’t have the typical path. Right. And so I think, I think that you didn’t either. So I think you’re a great example, a really great person to be talking to my listeners about kind of that moment where you like, oh, this feels right. I’m going to do this thing. So when I’m wanting to hear more about is like, if you can talk about that, how do you make decisions? How do you follow your gut? How do you know that? Like, Ugh, that’s the path for me. I mean, even on something like the decision to franchise, that was something you always knew, but how did you know Utah, Miami, Denver, like you make decisions all the time. How do you, how do you decide?  

We didn’t know where, but I mean, of course there’s always like the big dance markets, right? Utah. I mean, that’s a given  

You guys all, how do you measure that? How do you, how do you know? I mean, I know cause I travel on a convention co, is that how, you know, okay.  

Conventions, you go to UC and you, even though I haven’t been to jump or any of the other conventions or Tremaine or whatever, but I know where like the big talented dancers are because at millennium, when we get these big groups from Utah, they’re taking class and they’re doing private lessons with one of our instructors. I see how talented they are. 

Wow. So there is a totally symbiotic relationship between convention circuits and professional training studios. I should have known that. That is like the most obvious thing. I really was not clued into that.  

 Yeah, for sure. And you see like how talented they are. So if you put a lamb in their city, like, you know, it’s going to thrive, but also, you know, people think it’s so easy to like run a business. And even with millennium, we even with a name like granted, yes, you’re buying the name. They come to millennium LA, come train with me. I give him, you know, a to Z, like, this is how you run a dance studio. And we try to support them as much as possible by helping them connect with choreographers. But it’s still running a business.  

They run there.  

They’re not in LA, which is the biggest market for commercial in dance industry market. They’re not in LA and that’s who we are. We’re a commercial dance studio. And  

So how are you doing in Utah and stuff?  

Of course like you toss great. But like Miami, we had a millennium in Miami. We thought that it would do well, but they ended up closing.  

They didn’t know that.  

Yes. So a couple of the franchises that we did open because it’s an individually owned franchise. Got it. Somebody else that has a history and dance one way or another or history and business, and they somehow want to get involved in the dance industry. So, you know, they basically presented to Ann Marie and we meet with them and figure out like, oh, are they a good fit? Sometimes we have said yes. Even though in the beginning of those times, like we have said, I don’t think this is going to go well, but they’re so adamant about it. And so if they think, if they think that they, they have what it takes to run a millennium, then like we’re going to let them try, you know? And that’s their dream as well. So who are we to say from the get-go like, I’m sorry, I’m going to crush your dream and not give you the franchise. Right. You know,  

o you give him a chance and you give them the tools you say, basically this is the structure we use. Yes. It may or may not work for you because we’re in different places, different audiences.  

Okay. It has definitely worked for some of our franchisers, but some of them have been closed like Miami closed. And unfortunately after COVID Denver closed. Um, but, but that was just because due to COVID as  

Well. I mean, we saw it here too. You guys  Survived. Yeah. You had, um, 

I had to close my fitness business. I fitness business, my sister and my brother-in-law. Um, but of course we, it was six months opened and then COVID hit. So it was,  

I’m sorry for that. It doesn’t sound like you were devastated about that. If you did sound like it, I might be more gentle in this, but I’m like it. How do you, how do you feel about that? One of these try again,  

One of those situations where it was fucking COVID  

You’re right. You’re like I would take this personal, but it is 100% not personal. There’s no way to take that personal.  

It was a little personal in the aspect of these fucking commercial owners, property owners thinking, oh, I’m sorry. I expect you to pay your full rent during COVID Like, how do you do that? How do you do that? How do you, when you are completely shut down, how do you, do you get in debt  

And debt soul to the devil?  

Yeah. No, you just can’t. So you have to make that fucking soul crushing decision and say, Hey, I just put my life savings or whatever it is, it wasn’t my life savings. But you know, my mother-in-law my sister, they put a lot of their money in there and you know, we just made the decision. Like we would rather do this then, you know, go more in debt. And I’m sure it was like that with a lot of businesses. And it’s not to say, and same thing with millennials, millennials were in debt, all that rent from 14 months of closure. Oh, you got no joke. That’s all. But the great thing about our property owner, she was very cool about it. She’s like, look, I know you guys are a great business. You’re good tenant. Don’t pay me anything until you have  

 It. Oh my God. Wow.  

That’s unheard of that’s Magic that I tell you 

Right. Knowing who to do business with is half the business.  

Yeah, no, definitely. Um, but, and definitely has like that little, you know, extra, the blessing. Yes. With Ann Marie, like, you know, she’s an ex dancer herself, so she understands the struggles of dance and you know, the industry itself, she’s been there, she’s done it, you know? Um, but she is appreciative of, and you know, not a lot of, a lot of people know the history of millennials and the owners and what not, so yeah.  

Yeah. That’s very special. Yes. Special targeting. Um, okay. Huh. It’s, it’s really cool to hear about Robert and Ann Marie as people like, as humans, because I’ve always seen them as, you know, the pillars of the place that is the pillar of my world. So that’s cool. Yeah. I’m fascinated to hear also that you had a side business because you know, where are we, is it an LA thing or is it just a human thing? Am I over simplifying by saying that, that, or maybe it’s just like this period in time that we have like the big thing that we do, but then we also have like the thing that we love for me, it’s the podcast, in my words, that being in the community. Um, but now I’m curious to hear, because millennium, you have, you guys have the kids program, the work-study program rentals, masterclasses, regular class schedules, and then you have your side things. How do you keep organized? Are you a pen and paper gal? Is there software that I need to be buying? What is, what do you do? 

Well, I mean, the software that we have at millennia, we use the mind body system and that’s the software that we actually was. Well, that part was my idea as well. When mind body first came about into the market, you know, back in the day we were using class cards, of course these punch cards, fuck. When I first started  

Yes. Physical punch card with a hole puncher. Yes.  

And then we upgraded class cards, which, you know, I told Robert, I’m like, Hey, we like roll with the times. Come on, we got to have like something, but definitely it’s great for marketing too, to have that card, you know, for all the students to have, blah, blah, blah. So, and then now when mind body came about into the world, um, you know, they were looking for a software system and a lot of dance studios have Jack rabbit. I dunno, part of this software. It’s great.  

 I have heard of Jack rabbits though. I hear they’re fast. Is the software also fast because,  

But it’s only good for studios with a company like their company crew, because you can charge and add different prices for costumes and all of which we don’t need none of that shit because we don’t have a company crew right now. So, you know, more or less, it was all about getting organized with signing students. And how do we keep track of all this money that’s flowing through? But also like in, I mean, everything used to be, I mean, you should’ve seen my spreadsheets of, you know, our statements and finances and I’m just like, this is it’s too much, But once off where it’s like a freaking breeze,  

Okay, my buddy, good to know every yoga studio or fitness that I’m a part of using buddy. So they must be doing something right? Yeah,  

Yeah. No, for sure. A lot of studios use my system. So yeah, that bad really helps me get, uh, that helped me get organized, but also, you know, hiring the right people like before, uh, we used to have our CFO and our CFO at the time ended up getting cancer. He trained me how to keep books, you know, how to, you know, um, balance out our checkbooks. But I mean, just imagine the, the checks that we’re writing as a company, to the payroll and all of that, it’s like, I don’t have an accounting degree.  

Yeah. That’s the big stuff. And you don’t want to mess up in that department,  

But it was also a great thing to learn because I’m a hands-on type of person, like give me the fucking cliff notes. So it was actually a great thing. I was very happy to learn all of this and, you know, and come to figure out, which really helped me in my personal life too, how to stay organized in finances and whatnot. So it was very helpful. But afterwards, like, as your company grows, like there’s so much I can do, like I can’t,  

I can’t have staff  

And you know, do everything with finance and what not. So we hired another bookkeeper. She comes in once a week, does all of our books during tax season. So by the way,  

 And who calls people now, when you guys are owed money, is that still you? Oh my God.  

Oh, by the way, Aina nobody owes us money.  

Can you better get it through that is brilliant. You just pay zero tolerance tolerance. You guys do not tolerate racism or sexism to stance. I’ll never forget. I love that. That’s where millennium is. Oh, okay. I do have one more question for you. I’m so curious because I think that people listening, maybe in the beginning stages of, um, wanting to start a dance business, whether that be a studio or, you know, more of a personal entity, but I think you’re a person that has done a lot and done it very well and done it gracefully. Uh, so I’m wondering if there’s any advice that you would give or simply something you wish you knew at the beginning. Like, can we save people time other than listening to everything that you’ve already said, which is gold? Is there anything you would have said specifically to yourself? That’s like, Ooh, you’re going to need to know this. This is important.  

Um, one thing that always look for like that new talent give people opportunities because there have been certain occasions, certain it’s very rare, but a few people have crossed paths that I forgot to grab at the time. One thing with millennium and myself, when I hire choreographers instructors at the studio, I’m really all about energy. You know, I want to bring people that are like humble. I want to bring people in that are like, have a good energy about them. Um, I don’t want somebody who I’m going to have to like work at, you know, struggle, trains. I just keep them at bay. That’s why I don’t like hiring certain people because I don’t want to deal with their drama, you know? And you know that they’re gonna be dramatic. So it’s just not worth the time and energy. Like, come on guys. It’s just dance. It’s not that serious. And that’s what we tell people at the end of the fucking day. Like you guys, it’s not that serious. It’s just dance. Let’s just be amazing to each other. Why not be, it’s such a like creative field. It’s such a nice energy. And like, just, I don’t know. It’s just, you don’t need that attitude.  

You know what I will say, this is what it comes down to always is balance balance, because it is important for us in our community to think that this is fucking important. It’s important for us to think like, maybe this is that important. Yeah. And not everything is a life or death situation. So like it CA it’s about both. It’s about being able to embody, I think this is vital. Number one, I think I’m really good at it. I think I can create value in this space. And if things don’t work out my way, that’s okay. Or if, you know, if people have the wrong idea about me, that’s okay. It kind of having this check and balance mentality of, you know, the approach of, of all of this. That’s important. Yeah. I’m glad you brought that up.  

Yeah. And I think it’s also because we deal with so many women in our industry that deal with insecurities and, and at the end of the day though, like you guys just do, do what you’re here for stop looking at the other people. Like, you know, it’s not that serious. Do you? It’s difficult. I think for  

I’m curious because you, you watched dance class happen way more often than I do. I mean, I teach a lot, but I’m looking for very different things when I’m teaching than you are when you’re just observing this ecosystem. Do you notice that, oh, kind of that, that self-doubt in the kind of the shutdown, you see it more in women than in men.  

I see a more in women than men, of course, because also they’re a little more, you know, I see it, I see it from the front desk, you know, as soon as they walk into this space, sometimes it’s like, you know, they’re not from here. It’s the millennium, they’re wide eyed, bushy tailed, but a little reserved, you know, I have definitely seen two things either. They like will shine on the dance floor and my training and whatnot, or you can see how reserved they are. They’re not giving it their all. And, and, or they’re too worried about what they look like to others. You know, one of the greatest things I think about millennium is like, nobody cares.  

Well, you can say that because you’ve worked there for 20 years. But I remember specifically the first time that I was training there and getting called out in a group, you feel like everyone can, this is important. Add several quarters to that. I can definitely see where the pressure comes from. But the pressure is  

That is definitely different than like, when you’re like learning the routine while you’re learning the routine in class. Right? Like, is anybody looking at each other? Yeah.  

Looking at themselves constantly. And they check too, because I’m always making jokes and trying to be a show. Nobody cares about me.  

Everyone is just looking at themselves. They worry about, you know, like, oh, I don’t want to get, I don’t want to be seen because I look like a mess. That’s right. You know? And I’m like, no, and not every video do you guys like we video every single,  Which from top to bottom, too much data, too much data. We don’t have enough. We don’t have a hard drive farm big enough for that. But there is a thing I think a lot of people are doing lately. It’s teaching camera, free classes, period. It’s stated that’s part of how they advertise. And that’s an interesting thing. And then there is the other kind of more to be expected. Probably the majority of classes that happen at millennium is like, the class becomes the commercial for the class or for the teacher. And there’s some muddiness there that’s in terms of like, when I pay you to take this class, am I paying you to help you make more money by using me to advertise for your class? There is like economically, there’s an interesting thing there that’s been happening. Now. I think that the value of being able to practice being on camera after a very quick, after a, you know, 60 minute class, and then can you perform for a piece of glass and plastic?  

I think that’s a valuable thing to practice. I would pay to practice that I love coaching myself, like talking myself through mentalities that helped me deal with pressure, which is entirely created in my head. The camera did not actually change anything about the room. It just changed the way I’m thinking. So I like practicing in front of camera, like practicing that moment of like, what am I, what have I missed? What if I’m not present in the world? Sees it forever. Yeah. I it’s, it’s a good thing to practice. I like it. And I like that. Um, I like that it can be optional a dancer. It’s important that a dancer can remember, even if you are called out in the last group, you can decline. You can say, no, we’re good. Yeah. That’s, that’s, that’s totally power.  

Right. But that’s what these kids don’t understand. Like, yes. The power part. Just say no, if you don’t feel like it don’t do anything, you don’t feel like doing. And you do get a lot of just to watch, like the three, the three that are performing, you know, just to watch like, like in Marty’s class, like to watch you Ivan and bong, or whoever’s in class, like, Hey, they’re going to learn a lot from that too.  

Oh, here’s the circling back. And you can learn a lot 1400 times in a row. You can watch that Intuit is ingrained on your eyelids. And I think that’s the other reason why people are great at dance because they are truly studying it, watching at insane rate, like the amount that dance used to be on my retina. It was like four hours a day when I was at class. But now it is wake up and YouTube then afternoon tick-tock then class and then watch the footage from class. It’s like the majority of the days people devouring dance, I’m here for it. I think it’s good for business I’m so, so, so glad that you came in and shared a little bit of the backstory of millennium and your history with it. Um, I’m inspired to organize my life. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m feeling very much like a business woman or like I have, I can, I can make decisions that make a big change. Um, so that’s cool. Thank you so much for that. Awesome. 

Thank you so much for having me Dana

 You’re welcome. I am so grateful for you. Thanks Jen. Talk to you soon.  

Dana: Oh right. All right. A lot to take in there. They know, I love how Jin found herself a part of something special that she didn’t necessarily know anything about, but she trusted her gut. She went for it. She learned fast. Um, I love that she sees the long game. I love that when she talks. It’s real talk. Uh, Jin is this example of how freeing it can be to have your ish together. I know that’s certainly easier said than done, but you got this dance links. I know you do. I’m certain that you do. I’ll get out there, get real organized. And of course keep it very, very funky. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye-bye 

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

Ep. #101 New Perspectives with Hok

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #101 New Perspectives with Hok

This week’s guest is unique in practically every way… I mean, to start, he is Japanese with an English accent, he has worked in over 50 countries, has an Emmy for outstanding choreography…and a hair salon, ANNNND his first dance class ever was a Locking class. He is a decorated dancer and choreographer and a budding philosopher, you’ll see 😉  In this episode, we dig into praise and accolades, real life super powers, on the clock culture shocks, and the deep seeded values that drive our work and play.   Movers and shakers, friends and family, buckle up and behold, the one and only… Hok! 


Hok’s Website: https://www.iamhok.com/

“Hummingbird and the Flower”:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cT3aistRK5Y

Smac episode: https://www.thedanawilson.com/podcast/ep-75-being-creative-idiots-with-smac-mccreanor
Sad Locking: https://www.instagram.com/p/mIE7KwRnOy/?utm_medium=copy_link


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, my friend. Welcome to the podcast. I’m Dana. I’m so excited. You’re here Wowza. I mean, holy smokes. Have I got a treat for you? This is a good one because my guest is a great one. Hok. Wow. Like many of my guests, Hok is a multi-type, um, meaning he is a dancer choreographer director, movement designer, and a person that has thoughts about titles and genres and creativity. And, oh my gosh, I am so excited to share his perspectives and possibly, probably change some of yours.  

But before we get into my conversation with Hok, it is time for wins. Y’all I have a lot to celebrate this week because Thanksgiving week was bountiful Today, I am celebrating booking my first super bowl commercial. So stoked about it. Shout out to Kansas city and my lovely friends there. Alison and Tyler, and also Becca for helping me get that puppy on tape. I love a self-tape um, so much so celebrating, booking the gig. I’m very excited about it. Excited to tell you more, obviously, after that happens, because you know, a premature celebration can be risky. We haven’t filmed it yet, so anything can happen. Um, but yeah, I’m celebrating, whipping a self-tape together that I am extremely proud of with the support of so many of my friends, um, in a city that was not my home city. It’s good to feel like you can have it together no matter where you are. Okay. That’s me. And what’s going well in my world. Now you go, what’s going well in yours. 

Congrats. My friend. Keep winning. Keep winning. Hell yes. Keep winning. Now let’s all start winning or continue our winning with this conversation with hok. You get a little of it. I don’t even, I’m not even waiting one more second. Just music go. 

Dana:Holy smokes Hok, Welcome to the podcast, my friend.  

Hok: Thank you. Thank you for having me  

Dana: Really excited about this. And like we decided quite last minute to do this conversation right now. And in like one hour, I thought of 75 questions that I like. I have to know the answer to. I’m certain we will not get to all of them, but I’m just grateful  

Hok: 75, 

No, maybe 50, but for real, once I’ve had one question that I was like, um, a very intense root system sprouting out from that. So I’m really excited, but mostly, hi, how are you? Like what’s up? How are you doing?  

I’m good. I’m good. I listened to the one you did with smac actually Gina, my fiance and I, while she was doing my hair, I think smack posts that we randomly saw it and there was, so it was really funny and interesting hearing two people that I’ve known for quite some time, you know, but, um, you know, I felt like on podcasts and stuff, you talk about things you might not necessarily, you know, um, kinda dive into on like a regular he bye, uh, kind of situation. So it was really interesting. Yeah. So thank you.  

Oh, I’m so excited. Um, yeah, I think possibly my secret motive for starting the podcast was to get to know my friends better and get smarter. Like I really I’m learning so much from all of my guests. And even when I do solo episodes to actually find my position on things, I I’m learning so much. It’s the coolest thing. I really recommend everybody have a podcast.  

Um, I didn’t even know you do solo 

Oh yeah, I’ll do episodes by myself, so,  

Oh wow. That’s a completely different task is have to talk to yourself the whole time.  

Oh you know me and my, uh, superpower of speaking. I love to talk. Um, so let’s dig into you, my friend, um, I ask all my, all my guests to introduce themselves. That can be daunting. Um, but go ahead and take the floor.  

All right. Uh, well, hello. My name is hok. My full legal name is Hakuto Konishi and I am fully Japanese blood wise. Uh, I was born in Japan, in Tokyo and Yokohama actually to be specific, which is right next to Tokyo and, uh, my family and I moved to Oxford to England when I was three. And, uh, we would live in a tiny, tiny village, uh, really no Japanese people around. I think there was some Chinese people, but what, you know, just no Asians at all. Everyone was just English. That’s just, oh, you know why I thought the world was the flavor then. Yeah. Uh, when I was 12, a whole family, we’d moved back to Tokyo and um, yeah, I went to public school there. So three to 12, I was completely English, 12 to 20. I was completely Japanese and at 20, uh, honestly the biggest reason that I wanted to move again was because I was afraid that I was going to forget how to speak English because I really never, never used it when I was in Japan. And I thought it’d be such a shame. So I used, um, my school’s foreign exchange program and I came to the states and there was originally going to do two semesters and go back to Japan. But I fell in love with the place ended up staying. It’s been, what about 16, 17 years now that I’ve been in LA? Yeah. It’s insane.  

That qualifies as home.  

 I think so. Yeah. I mean home is earth, I guess. Um, but yeah, I, uh, I started dancing when I was 15 when I was in Tokyo. Uh, it was always a hobby, you know, I was a student first when I came here and I was very Japanese. So you just automatically don’t think and especially back then, you don’t think you could even make a career out of dancing, let alone a foreigner, you know, and I think, um, yeah, I did. My first job, uh, in entertainment industry was a show on Fox called. So you think you can dance, I’ve heard and, uh, yeah, the show did very well. And then I went on to doing America’s best dance crew with my crew and, um, yeah, I think, uh, I was able to kind of go from project to project, uh, one after another, uh, good timing, great people around and yeah, I’ve been able to have a very, uh, fun career now. It’s kind of a mishmash of, uh, dancing, choreography, movement design, directing arts. I just like creating things.

Yes you do. And I am so glad that you do because I love what you create. I really do.  

So that’s um, yeah, that’s uh, uh, I don’t know if it was that quick, but yeah.  

Oh, was beautiful. And there was a lovely connecting, lovely connecting of the dots from Tokyo to England, to LA, to like competition style to now being a producer of your own, your own visions and your own things. Yeah. Um, I did notice, however, you left out from your, uh, dance competition chapter that you are no stranger to winning stuff. You won an Emmy for Wade Robson’s choreography and your performance of the hummingbird dance. Was it actually called the hummingbird or in the  

Flower? Flower on the hummingbird.  

Okay. Yeah. Is one of my favorite things that ever came from, so you think it’s absolutely beautiful. And so you performed it with Jamie, who is, uh, Jamie Goodwin, dear friend. Awesome. And Wade won the Emmy for choreography and then you and quest crew won, uh, ABC. Yes. And you won an Emmy for choreographing, some of the stuff that you did on that show. Yes. Okay. So that’s just facts. I am so curious about that because those are big accolades and that’s huge, tremendous pressure to be so visible. Um, in high demand, those shows are both high stakes and high visibility. So I am wondering what you think about praise and what you think about pressure and how those kind of factor into how you work.  

Um, that’s a, that’s a really good question. Um,  

Thank you. I, that was the first one out of the 75 that I had.  

Yeah. I mean, I felt like, you know, both of those that can work both positively and sort of negatively, you know, and, uh, I think I got lucky in a way that I was fortunate enough to be gifted with those awards, um, without getting so, uh, focused on that, you know, I was more focused on just making some itself. Yeah. I was just more focused on doing the best version of my current self. Like what can I do FSO think how as a solo dancer, what can I at this point offer the most and as quest crew, um, as a group of dancers, you know, what’s the best version of however long, you know, I think it was like a minute or 90 seconds on stage. W w what can we do to make a best version of that? And as a result, uh, people got to see what we did and we got awarded.  So I think it was definitely, uh, it was, it was nice. It was really nice that, uh, we were able to kind of follow our heart and got a little bit of validation, you know, um, from that. And, uh, I T I feel like, you know, sometimes when the focus comes for sort of, um, I have to get that, or I have to do this, sometimes that itself could crush you, you know? So, um, but for some people that could be the motivation to, um, I think it’s a good mixture. I know when it’s competition settings, I’m a very, very competitive person.  

 Oh, yes. Tell me more 

like lifetime, like even as a child.  Oh yeah. Well, the thing is naturally, I’m not really, you know, um, at PE I was really bad at PE in school and, uh, when we would play card games or little games with my dad, when I was little, I would always be losing. And I feel like I wouldn’t win by default, you know? So I was always just so frustrated as a kid. And I, I think work in Canada, then the norm to get why one was just, that was a given. Like, I, I, there was no other way for me. It’s not like, naturally I’m faster at running, so I don’t have to try as hard or naturally I’m good at football basketball. Yeah. I felt like I didn’t get that little bonus, you know, genetics. So I think, yeah. And that definitely helped me, um, for the things I’ve done thus far, you know, for, so you think maybe I wasn’t as, uh, traditionally classically trained, but so, you know, when it came time for the competition, of course I have to work harder, but that’s not, it’s not really a stress or, um, a surprise really. It’s just, if you, if you, if you don’t have it just, you know, work harder and smarter and  Yeah, that’s it. And I think I’ve applied that philosophy to everything I do. And the good thing is it’s, it doesn’t end that it’s not like, uh, you’re not fast at running. So the end it’s like, okay, you’re not fast at running by default. So what can you do so that you can become faster than everyone else? Uh, you’re not naturally gifted with this yet, you know, right now, but that doesn’t mean it’s like that eternally. And I think I really like it, that the only thing that I’m the only person that can change that is you, you know, I feel like the, the, the fact that you, we have the freedom to be able to do that and control our life. I just, I love that.  

Oh, I love that answer. And I love the mindset that, you know, you can stay competitive and kind of objectively analyzing your strengths and weaknesses in a way that might even beef up a strength for you. That’s the majority of other people’s weakness. Like I grew up in a competition dance environment and I, nobody likes losing, like, nobody likes that. I was never the most technical I had, like my shoulders up here in my ears and like very little core strength. I’m still working on it. Um, but I, I did not win often. Like first place was not a place that I saw very often, but I got really good at like, okay, well, I don’t have a billion determines and I don’t have super high leaps. And, and, and, but I really think like that assessment of why people were winning, why I maybe wasn’t and not letting that be the end of it saying, okay, well, maybe I don’t have those things, but dammit, I can perform.  Right. And I think my stage presence and maybe call them storytelling abilities or showmanship perhaps started being like, I was working on those at a really young age because I had the platform too. But also because I was like, oh, that’s something I can do. And it seems like other people maybe aren’t doing that, they were very focused on all the technical stuff. Right. So I feel like I got kind of a leg up and started doing that sort of thing early. Um, okay. So that leads me to the obvious follow-up question. What are your strengths? Like, what are you, what’s your superpower,  

Uh, talking about dance?or in general?

Ooh, let’s go broad in general.

 Um, okay. So it’s funny that, um, I, I don’t know if it will be a superpower for a lot of people, but it, as a result, it somehow ends up being my superpower. But I think it’s to believe that it’s not good enough um, to such an extent 

I wouldn’t make such a good team because I’m like, oh, that’s great. Oh, I love that. That’s perfect. This looks awesome.  

Yeah, I, yeah. So it’s like, I mean, obviously it’s a, it’s a balance. I think that everyone needs, but, um, yeah, for a lot of things I do, uh, I, I always look at what it could be and then I think it’s, it’s never, never enough in a way, you know, and I think because it’s never good enough, I put the work in to make it better. I, I, there’s no such thing as perfect, but as close as I can physically make it to be. And, um, yeah, it’s weird because, uh, I’m able to come up with the quality that I do because it starts off from a place that I don’t believe it’s good enough. So I would add, and sometimes it already is dependent on how you look at it, but I would do a hundred thousand extra coats  

Because before you decided that the base was the best one.  

Yeah. Because I, I dunno, I just believe that, uh, somewhere in the separate alternate universe, there’s another me doing it  a little better, so I have to do it better than him. You know,  

That sounds brilliant. And also like a recipe for disaster to me, like, how do you manage perfectionism? How do you not burn out on really striving to be perfect? Or maybe I guess the more concise question is when do you know, or how do you know that, you know, it’s good enough?  

Uh, the short answer would be, I don’t, I think whenever I release anything into the world, it’s still not good enough, but it will do, um, kind of feeling. Um, I think it helps that I do, you know, in the back of my mind, I do understand that there is no such thing as perfect. So,  

So you’re not like beating yourself up as you went  

Um, no, I’m not. Um, I’m not chasing that, but even with that said, I would want a nice quality, you know? So, uh, yeah, it’s, it’s a, it’s a fine balance of sanity and insanity, I guess,  

Sanity and drive like pursuit. Um, this reminds me actually of a great conversation I had with Megan Lawson. Yeah. But we were talking about a person that she works with often a collaborator who will never accept the first thing. The first thing, no matter what, even if it’s like really exceptional and spirited and, and well thought out and, you know, deliver it, they will never accept the first thing they will ask for. There will be notes. There will be changes 100% of the time. And occasionally they’ll go back to saying, you know what, no, the first version was better. We’ll use that. Right. But it’s almost that if, if you didn’t try for what else or for what further, then you haven’t done the process, like the process of finding the best you can do. Like what might be the first thing that you did, but you won’t know it unless you’ve tried other things. And that rings super true to me. I think there’s a lot of value in that type of mentality.  

Yeah. He just, I think you have to know how to balance it within yourself, you know, because it’s not, it’s, it’s, it’s rough. I won’t play.  

 I’m reminded too that sometimes you, the creator in this case, the choreographer or movement designer, which I want to talk about that title by the way. Cause I love it. Um, sometimes it’s not up to you. There is sometimes a deadline where whatever it is right now is what it is. So whether you think was done or not is irrelevant,  

Which tremendously I am a person that needs deadlines because I need, um, and another external factor that takes it away from me. And you say, okay, this is, this is the value for now. You know, because the thing is, you can keep it unfinished and it will always get better. But the thing is, if it doesn’t see the light of day, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s nothing for what?  

Yeah. Or, or maybe it’s just practice. And I don’t mean to say, yeah, yeah, maybe it’s practice.  

Yeah. And I feel like I’m constantly having to remind myself that, you know, even if it’s 30%, 40% of the potential is 30% more than zero, you know?  

Ooh, love that. Yup. That’s momentum for sure.  

Yeah. You just have to, you know, uh, just deal with it. And the thing is yourself, you’re, you’re only going to care about your, uh, projects and what you create more than anyone else in the world. All the things that you see, no one else sees all cares for better or for worse.  

I think we’re our own toughest critics. For sure. I can’t wait to make something with, you can just see these two opposing forces me being like, I love it.  

That’s great. That’s great. Because I think when I’m by myself, that that character doesn’t exist in me.  

Here’s a follow-up question. I’m learning this even more about myself as I become older and more exposed to other types of art. I have learned that the thing I’m most drawn to in other mediums is a human quality. I love like glue dripping out of a crack or like handwritten things or, you know, like unpolished surfaces, things that aren’t tremendously refined. So I think that translates in my work. It is human. It is, I usually will pick the not perfect pass, um, for the final edit because some of the times there’s something more right about it than perfection. Like that’s what I love. So my question for you, I guess, is what type of art are you drawn to and do you see those, uh, values come through in your work?  

I think, uh, whatever medium it is, uh, when it opens up a brand new perspective.  

Oh then 100%. Yes. That’s your work?  

That’s my cup of tea. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, and it could be, honestly, the simplest thing is, you know, um, Hey, in the beat and the music that you didn’t know existed, you know, wants off, do you that dance piece you’ll, you will hear the music in a different way. Just that is that it’s a tiny way open their perspective, but you know, other things, if, um, oh, you never thought you could see a certain subject in this kind of way or you would, it just like, I think it’s amazing when you can open up someone’s world and their, their entire existence, a whole another layer. Uh, and I just like it when that happens to me. So I think whenever I create, I try to sprinkle an essence of that. So when I look back and, you know, 5, 10, 50 years, yeah. I can say that I’ve done a decent amount of that.  

I would say with full confidence that when I watch your work, I am seeing things a different way than I ever have. I would consider your work like, or when I think of it broadly, and I know that you do a lot, but it looks to me like a living kaleidoscope, like a kaleidoscope made of movement, sometimes human bodies, not all the time. Um, and, and I love, I was not good at, but I love geometry and architecture. Um, is that something that you’ve been good at in the past because you actually have a graphic design degree, right?  

Yeah. I think, um,  Yeah, no, I mean, I, I wasn’t that, especially fond of math growing up. 

That was funny. Yeah. 

Um, I know when I was little, uh, other than like the schoolwork at home, we had to, my mum, my mom taught my sister at night Japanese, and then my dad taught my sister and I Japanese level math, because it was just different than what we were doing.  

Very high level  

That’s when it was higher than, um, than in England. And I, I think for them, they didn’t want us to someday move back to Japan and be that far behind from the same age level. So yeah, they, they wanted us to have the bare minimum and I, and I hated it. I really, I just, you know, cause my friends are just outside playing football when we went to study and I can  Understand this mathematics inside.  Yeah. I mean, I’ve always been a fully fond of art and just beautiful things in general. Um, I can’t, I honestly don’t like, I, I don’t know when I got drawn to geometry, um, I think just naturally from seeking beautiful things, I started liking symetry Um, and then picking up uh tutting I think there was a lot of things in common. Yeah. And it just kind of expanded expanded from there, but it’s really weird because like you say, I do different things and even within dance, I felt like the curiosity and love I have towards the geometry geometric stuff I make is vastly different from the love of have towards the feeling when I do locking in any function, it’s, it’s very different, but it’s just, yeah. It’s like someone saying, Hey, do like, um, orange juice or steak. It’s just very different, you know, you can’t compare it. You’re just like them both. Yeah. Yeah.  

Okay. So tough question to answer. What is your favorite mode to be making in because obviously they’re different, but do you have a preferred, like, I guess if you got to spend your day doing one thing, what would it be? Would it be like a jam, a cipher or directing, designing movement for some purpose? I guess I’m asking you the question that you hate asking, like making the comparison of things that are different.  

No, no. I think, um, right now the 2021 November version of me is, uh, they can make, can beautiful things, just, um, something that’s beautiful that would, uh, that will still have a value. If someone looked at it a hundred years, thousand years from now, you know, um, back height and thinking of that kind of scale and wandering, I think that’s, uh, that’s something I like to do.  

Yes. That’s amazing. I’m so glad that you get to do that. Um, do you find yourself spending your days that way often?  

I think I do. Uh, whether it be beauty or something interesting. Um, I think that’s my driving force behind anything. Uh, if I’m not curious or keen on it, there is no energy or power towards that. You know, I can’t, um, I’m just not clearly not interested and I’m very bad at doing something that I’m not interested in. So  

I feel you, however, I can get interested in almost anything. It is a gift  

That is a superpower  That is super super power. Um, okay. It’s my brain is making this connection and I’m going to try to verbalize it, but I feel like the synapses are still like, we’re still firing we’re in workshop mode over here, but it sounds like when you’re in the mode of creating something visual, um, maybe that’s a dance, but maybe it’s a shape. Maybe that’s a series of shapes connected, um, that your goal is impermanence lasting, some lasting ability and that the eye of the audience or the beholder themselves will have it shift in perspective because of this. Um, because of this thing, versus when you are dancing, there is, it is zero, nothing about it is forever. It is 100% fleeting. Every feeling of every step you take happens in energy is gone and you were onto the next one. And in that experience, there is no audience. There is no perspective to be shifted. You are just being dancing and those are steak in orange juice, 

100%, totally two totally different things. Um, but you were really good at both of them. So I want to talk about, I want to talk about the visceral being dancing part, um, because, um, I’m pretty sure we met in a locking glass somewhere in the world. Was it Hilton Bosch in LA maybe? Or  

Where did we meet during? Um, so you think that is probably,  

Uh, yeah, I I’m, I’m wondering if you were assisting someone and we met through SYTYCD

And what season were you on  

Season three?  Oh my gosh. Work. Cause I, I,   I think I met you. And then I learned that I found out that you locked after that. And then I was like, wait, what what’s happening?  

I did assist Marty think early on, but then he and I co choreographed in season seven, but that was long after we got to work with Jose and comfort. And it was so much fun. Um, but whoa, so intense. Um, I don’t know when it was, but I know that period and people listening to this show who know that was the first time I’ve called it a show podcast. Um, people who live in it really is, it is right now. Cause I’m watching you. So people know how fond I am of locking anybody who had who’s ever taken my class knows that locking is my favorite style period, hands down. Um, because I would say it’s impossible to dance that style without smiling, without being joyful, but I have proven myself wrong. Um, oh, I, while I was doing my, my year of doing daily, I call it doing daily where I made an Instagram video every single day for over a year. I up  Too in that way.  Oh my God, my friend really early, early on. And by the way, it went for way more than a year. I did like over 420 days, but I was counting 

good job.  

Well, you know, it’s funny. I would love to talk about that with you because I have absolutely shifted from that. There are rare are the days that I make a video for Instagram, maybe like maybe like 11 this year. I don’t know. It’s not the medium that I make for anymore. And I think that’s okay. But I do miss the feeling of knowing every single day that I would make something. I love that feeling and I don’t have that anymore, but that, wasn’t what I was going to say. What was I going to say? Oh, sloppy, sad locking. So in one of my early videos, I   Just, I’m going to try,  I’m going to find it and send it to you. I’ll link it in the show notes, we were on the road with JT, uh, for 20/20. Oh my God. Now I can’t even remember if it was future sex for 20/20. It doesn’t matter. And we were at some, at some hotel and I was jet lagged and they had a gym that had mirrors. So I just went in there to gym and I was locking around a little bit and I had this idea that was like, what if locking wasn’t happy? What if it was really sad? And that was such a challenge for me, but it made it like a gap. I made it a gimmick. Um, and it was hysterical. Like every, every up is like a sniffle and every lock is like, and it’s hysterical. Um, so I would say is my favorite style because you can’t do it sad, but now I know you can do it sad. Yeah,  


Um, tell me your history with, I would say locking, but I’m curious about all the street styles period, because on, so you think you were considered to be a b-boy, right?  


Is that how you think of yourself?  

Uh, no, no, not at all. Um, so I started dancing, uh, like I said, um, in Japan and I, I didn’t grow up with dancing around whatsoever. I didn’t even know the existence of any of the street styles. I, my sister did ballet in England, but that was like the closest thing. And I, I didn’t know. I know we liked to watch my parents liked, uh, musical, so I did go up watching different musicals and we would do at school.  

What’s your favorite? What’s your favorite musical

Favorite musical? 

Yes. That, uh, that we did or just like  Everything in the world.  

Oh,  Sorry. I’m totally sidetracking us.  

 No, no, no, no. Um, I don’t know if it’s my favorite, but Starlight express was the first one that I ever saw. And, um, you know, that’s a pretty crazy one to dive into because the stage goes around you, it goes behind and they’re on roller skates and roller blades. Yeah. So it’s yeah. I was just like, what is it’s you know, good. So I  

Think that explains a lot. Yeah.  

Yeah. It was really good that it, I think just right from the get-go it opened up my mind of what a stage performance could be, you know? Cause I think if you go up just seeing it on a tiny box on stages, think that’s everything. Right. And you  

Could tire that pretty quickly.  

Yeah. Yeah. Um, yeah, but, uh, yeah. So in Japan, I, uh, there was a dance show on TV at the time going on and uh, I watched this one hip hop dance dancer, and I was just, was just so blown away. It was nothing like anything I’ve seen before. I was like, I don’t know. I don’t know what that is, but I  I need to, I need to do that, but I didn’t have any friends that dance so. I didn’t know of any studios. And it wasn’t like now where you Google it and anything just  pops up. So I think just for a year, I continued just watching that TV show and trying to, you know, trying to copy it. And then a year later on the show, they talked about that studio, uh, which was pretty close to me. So I decided to go the next day. And uh, I said, yeah, I want to, I saw it on TV. I want to do hip hop. And, uh, that day, uh, the, the personnel studio was like, oh, we only have a locking class today. And I don’t know the difference. So I was like, okay, I’ll take that. And that’s how I started locking.   

Literally your first fucking dance class. Yeah, yeah. Having to brace myself, this is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. Oh my God.  

So, and I didn’t really know much. I think I went into it one in like different other hip hop styles too, but then it was like, okay, I’ll, you know, Vegas can’t be chooses. So I just took what, what was available. And then, uh, I think for the first, let’s say maybe two, three years, I just did locking. And then I did, uh, hip hop. And then, uh, I think after that went into braking and then I joined a b-boy crew in Japan, and then I was doing that, uh, for a couple of years. And then after that, I, uh, yeah, I, I asked during, so you think it just opened my brain up to all these different styles and, uh, yeah, I don’t even at that point, you know, um, I felt like as a TV show, you have to label them, oh, is it just temporary? You know,  

And I dislike the most about this  

And I, and I get it for TV and for, you know, regular people that don’t understand dance. It’s just so much easier to understand and categorize people that way. Um, but yeah, it was just like a mish-mash, uh, but also get an exposure from TV. Uh, there’s a lot of, um, kind of hate, might be a strong word, but you know, there’s a lot of opinions that are like, oh, he’s not a baby boy. He’s not a lock it, all these, but the thing is, I don’t think I really cared that much for it. And it was like, sure, if, if, if it’s not breaking fine where you can, you can call it whatever, but I’ll just do me. And then, uh, even when we did quest, it was like the same thing. And I’m sure, you know, um, different people have, uh, the different, uh, drives and the reasons why they dance and culture, they protected their own perspectives. So, uh, yeah, definitely nothing against any viewpoints. We were all just different. And you have your own justifications. Uh, yeah. Even with quest, it was like, oh, but they’re not doing this. Or when we started activism stuff, it’s like, oh, that’s not dancing. I’m like, okay, that’s fine. It’s not dancing. It’s, um,  

Movement designing instead of choreography or what is the, what’s the deciding?  

Uh, I’m sure there was a lot of factors, but that was definitely one of them where it’s like, oh, that’s not the answer. And that’s just making shapes and it’s like, sure. Yeah. Like, yeah, possibly agree. So let’s not call it out, but is it dope? Yep. That’s it? Yep. If it is, yes. Then let’s just move on. And I feel like, um, for me personally, because I do like to continuously push the boundaries, I think it’s such a shame when, uh, the end products gets limited because of the title or the category, you know, I think it should be the other way round it’s it should be the, the main focus is how can we make something better and how can we up the quality? Uh, and I think for me, that’s my way of respecting all the people that came before us, you know, cause I think if you’re not  


Exactly, exactly. And I think in a short span, short, it could survive. But if you look at it in the long run, it’s gonna, it’s gonna rot and it’s going to disappear. And I feel like that’s, that’s the most disrespectful thing you can do to all the people that came before us. So I think the only way to do it is figuring out how to up the game, you know? So I think because I’ve had that mindset, uh, I’ve never been a strong advocate for titles, whether it start styles or what I do, I might be a little too flexible with that. It’s like, are you a dancer? I don’t know. Uh, I can I now? Yes. Um, are you a choreographer? I mean, I can, but yeah, I used the active,  

I think my identity, well, that sounds like, that sounds like another superpower. I mean, any strength, overused might become a weakness for sure. But it sounds like an asset that you’d be able to think about yourself and what you’re capable of more fluidly versus immediately putting yourself into a box and, and what you do, right. Like with the lid screwed on tight and all neaten consolidated, then yeah. The opportunity to expand or to grow is not, is not as high. Um, I love this. It also brings up again the idea of balance, which this is what everything always becomes about. And every podcast I walk away like, oh yeah, balance. Right. A little bit of that a little bit, but I’m like, there is value to the purist, right. There is value to the person who’s like, that’s not what it is or what it was about at the beginning. Yeah. And like hearing that and being like, Hmm, I understand that perspective. And whoa, thank you for reminding me and sharing what the origins are. I think it’s important. Yes. And okay. What next and where, where do we go from there? Because yeah, I think especially in street styles, they were not created to be the same forever. I don’t think anybody like stepped into a psych cipher thinking, this is the way it should always be done forever. Right, right, right. And so  

 It’s like, they both have to coexist to, you know, and it’s like, you need the historian that will preserve the history and tell the story of how it was. And there’s all these bits and in between, and then you have this end of  

The revolutionary side, the innovator.  

Right. But I feel like it has to both co-exist uh, to have the true value is what I believe in.  

I love your mindset about that. I’m going to, I’m going to adopt that for my own. Yeah. And I’m going to pretend that it was mine all along. Okay. So I do, I have several more questions, but I’m gonna, I’m gonna try to wrap this up with somewhat of a burnout round. Oh, wait. Before the burnout round one more. This one, this question is coming from someone within my words that moved me community. I had just before this interview, I was coming from a thanks sharing where we’re not going at Thanksgiving. It was a sharing of wins and gratitude for each other. Um, and I let them know that I would be talking to you and I had someone ask, what should I ask, talk about? And they asked, yeah, brilliant. I swear everybody should have a podcast. I’m a brilliant question about knowing how internationally you work.  Like you work all over the world and work with different people all over the world. And, um, I, I suppose I would love to hear what have you to say about different worth work ethics in different places without doing the overgeneralization thing, which I, I do all the time I try not to do. And I know that we’re all unique and cool, but it’s rare that it’s rare that a person get to do their thing all over the world because usually their thing is tied to a specific part of the world, but Dan’s being such an international thing. Um, yeah. I’m so curious. I thought that was a great question. I’m curious about what you’ve learned about how people work in different places.  

Um, I think one that stands out is, uh, I got to work on a show called strict dance of China, the past three seasons in Shanghai. Uh, and the first season I was so stressed, uh, because, uh, the difference in culture and the idea of taking a pre existing thing and just, um, copy and paste in, it was, uh, there was not even an ounce of guilt or a bad thing at all. And I can understand that because I feel like coming from my background, it made no, like it made no sense, you know, the, the, it was just your duty to be original and pro, you know, provide something new to the scene. And that’s kind of how you stand out and ciphers old bowls or anything competitions. But I completely, uh, didn’t understand that in the beginning. I do understand that if you’re born and you grow up in a culture in a society that everything around you, um, from food to clothing, to all the businesses, the model is taken a preexisting, something and then mass producing it.  

Why wouldn’t you think that’s the norm of everything? You know? So I think it took a while for me to understand that, oh, and I was really surprised because like you said, I, you know, growing up, I’ve traveled a lot with work. I’ve traveled a lot. I didn’t think in my mid thirties I would have a major culture shock, but I did. And it was really eye opening. I think I posted a series of it, uh, on my IgE story. Um, I think I saved it, but because it was such a stress stressful yeah. Eye opening experience. But yeah, it wasn’t a that until that point that, you know, I even realized, and I humbled myself that, oh my norm, isn’t the universal norm. And you have to understand that, you know, it’s, it’s one way of looking at things, but just as strong as you have your core, someone else might have that too. And I think, um, I think it’s important to respect the differences. You know, you don’t have to agree with it, but just, uh, kind of understanding that that exists. And I think, yeah, uh, just trying to push your views to someone else, like if it matches great, but you have to understand they’re not you. So I think,  

And just the material that you are working with is not a great use of time and energy.  

Right. Right. And I think it’s a, you know, um, the first thing you want to do is that, you know, because I felt like doubting, uh, and taken apart, all these beliefs that you believe is true. I think it’s people don’t do that by default because it makes you worried. It kind of crumbles your world that you believe in. But the thing is, if you can do that once and still be stable with it, I think it opens up your world and you have a better understanding of, of just people in general. That’s how I honestly feel like the best way for anyone is, uh, w I mean, whether it be physically or virtually, however it is, but to see different cultures or just, you don’t have to do anything, go to the other side of the earth and see the people there and  

Just literally open your eyes.  

Yeah. Cause the thing is your, your tradition and your basics could, you know, it’s probably fine with the area that you live in. You go completely different. And even just like what people eat, what they do when they wake up, how they stand, how they sit, you know, those things you can to, I feel is gonna open up your mind. And I feel like that is the way to understand more people. And I feel like a lot of arguments happen because that doesn’t happen. You’re not able to see things from their way. Yes.  

Oh, thank you so much for adding that. And thank you, Rachel, Gail tan for asking that question. So cool. Um, I love that. Okay. Feels like that was really beautiful and poetic, and this has got to be jarring. So buckle up  

Everybody though. Rapid fire questions.  

Ready? So try to be quick. All right. Okay. I know I’ve already asked you, I’ve already asked your biggest, your greatest strength. And I want to know what is your greatest weakness go? And you can say for take turns. It is mine. It is my greatest weakness.  

Uh, greatest weakness is a laziness by default. I’m not naturally very lazy.  

I don’t believe you, but work. Um, what is a book that changed the game for you?  

Ooh, uh, uh, so it’s a Japanese book called , which translates to gymnastics of the mind. And it’s basically a series of, uh, these like riddles and quizzes. Uh, there’s like maybe like a hundred, 150, uh, for one book. And, uh, my dad kind of liked those puzzles. So I think I got introduced to that early in my teens and that opened up my mind, like crazy.  

I love that. Okay, awesome. Um, what is the name of your favorite playlist on Spotify? And is it public because I want to go listen to it.  


And are you a Spotify person? I might have just made a huge assumption about your moral fiber?  

A hundred percent. I mean, is there anyone that says no to that?  

Oh, I do know. I do know iTunes, radio, apple radio people. Anyways, I can’t stand iTunes or anything about it, period. It makes it, you know, this about me enraged. I am actively pissed when I think about,  

Yeah. I mean, I felt like I don’t do that many subscription stuff, but Spotify, I feel like you, yeah, you can’t live without it, but I have a, um, a Spotify playlist called Gulmay funk and I basically, it’s  Basically butter it’s,  It’s like random funk beats that I find. Uh, and they always changes, but like that would feel good to listen to while you’re cooking. Um,  

Yeah, that makes sense. 

It’s kind of like the excitement of the funk and the excitement of what you’re making. It just like feels good to you.  

Love that. Um, is it public? Cause I’m going go try, find that  

It’s not, I will figure out how to make it public. Okay.  

Do that. Um, okay. Everyday carry or EDC. It’s a big, popular thing on the internet, but I think you are a very technical, capable person. Um, and I’m so curious. What are the things, the tools that you use and have with you on a daily basis?  

Oh, just tool. Just my phone. Okay.  

Yeah. Phones have really changed the game. I mean,  

Yeah, it has. I mean, it’s a phone, but I mean, I felt like the least thing you could do with it is call someone. So it’s, it’s just like a little computer in it.  

Yeah. Okay. Well then, um, talk me through a perfect day.  

Perfect day. Uh, okay. Um, oh, where shall I go? Okay. I’ll wake up, uh, Greece, I think Greece or have a breakfast, um, on the balcony. Sunny you the ocean, maybe we’ll go for a little bit of swim. Uh, I mean, I think we’ll go on the plane, but ideally we can teleport. That would be much nicer.  

Yeah. That is a perfect case. Zero in transit.  

Yeah. If we can just like click and then maybe we’ll go to Barcelona, um, or have a little hot chocolate and chiro while I read or draw or think of some weird ideas. Maybe make some stuff, get lunch. Um, I’ll probably stop by Japan. Say hi to my parents. Uh, magically my sister and her family they’re in DC, but they can be there too, for sure.  

Especially if there’s like portals and stuff. Yeah,  

Yeah. Yeah. And, um, I think we’ll, we’ll have some kind of Japanese food. Uh, what should I do  

Obviously? How lucky was I to get to witness Brilliance? The nonstop theater? I felt like genuine theater,  

So funny and sad that that’s just, that’s just our default, you know? And it’s not like we do that every, every other week or like maybe not them some but Korean barbecue or some kind of meet up and yeah. It, the energies it’s always like that. It just like how you experienced.  

Yeah, man, it makes me very, very excited, but sorry. I crept into your perfect day. Keep going. Yeah. It’s gotta be like 5:00 PM now.  

5:00 PM. Okay. So I think what was the best boss? I want to find, you know what, I don’t know what country, what city, but I want to go to this new place I’ve never been to. That has an amazing bath. I actually took a Megan loss. I love it.  

Oh my gosh. Yes. I was just going to say megan Lawson is like the bath Baroness. She’s the quiet  

Honestly, I would love to make a community that just seeks out beautiful boss around the world. Uh, just to do that, you know,  

My brain is already working on pun titles for that, but none of them are funny enough to say  

Yeah. And  

Maybe with, with the bath, I guess  

I like, I liked the time, uh, with, um, that we, we get to spend my fiance and I get to spend without dogs. I think we’ll end up coming back to LA keeping it chill. Um, yeah. So basically traveling to different places, eating different things, making it,  

I think about thinking about beautiful things, making beautiful things. Oh  

Yeah. But  Beautiful  Places. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I, I guess I get to live a version of that now. I just, if I, if it can be a little bit more instant, that will, that will be really. Yeah. That’ll be nice. That will be very nice. Yeah. So if any airline companies are listening to this and you have a technology while you’re waiting for,  

You know, oddly enough on my zoom call that it was just on earlier, my niece who is seven and a half important thee and a half part is very important to her. Um, she said, I think it was before anybody else came down, came down. Yep. Sticking with it. Um, she said, you know, if I had a superpower, it would be to create portals so I could be there with you and  

Let’s  Go. So portals, portals on the brain, in the sweetest thing. Um, she also kept track of the number of times that I swore. And she decided that every for every time I swear I have to come home and visit.  

Oh, well that’s yeah. That’s, that’s nice.  

Yeah. Racked up three, three visits to Denver. So yeah, if we could make a portal, that would be great. Really helped me save time on travel days. Um, okay. Well, there’s still several things I want to talk to you about, but I’m just going to go ahead and file this on what is again, someday. Um, okay. I am so grateful for your time. So glad to get, to dig a little deeper into this. Like yeah. I think you’re a person who is exquisite at changing perspectives, shifting perspectives, even your own, but especially, um, an audience persons. So I, my perspective shifted several times in this conversation. Thank you. I’m so grateful.  

Thank you. And I honestly, I feel like we’ve just barely grazed.  

Yeah, for sure. We’re scratching the surface. Well, we, we can be friends for a really long time. We can make stuff. We can lock. We can talk. We can lock and talk. Oh, there’s a talk show idea.  

The whole time. Just lock in the whole time.  There’s nothing you can say without locking it.  

 If you want to  

 Spell me, like you have to walk.  

Oh my God.  Okay. So we’re going to do that. I’m looking forward to that. Thank you again so much for being here. Uh, I’ll talk to you soon.  

Yeah. All right. Bye.  

Dana: Well, my friends, what do you think? I think this is one of my favorite episodes, man. You know what, actually, instead of trying to recap this one, you know, collect all my favorite moments. I think I might just use that time and go back and listen to this immediately right away right now. Uh, you can join me if you’d like, or you can not totally up to you, but you should probably download this one to keep it at the ready. Um, you should download all of them just for funsies and you should also certainly get out there and to keep it exceptionally funky. Thanks for listening. I’ll talk to you soon. Bye 

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


Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson

This (100TH) episode is a peek into my life and mind!

Not only am I celebrating 100 episodes with a list of 100 things I am grateful for, I am also celebrating over 100k downloads!  Thank you all for ALL of your love and learning.  Now buckle up and get ready to get to know me better (…for better or for worse).


WTMM IG for contest details!

Words That Move Me Shopping List: https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/208ZBEMH1NK8H/ref=nav_wishlist_lists_3?_encoding=UTF8&type=wishlist

TJs Chocolate on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3oH8b5L

Pho 87 

Backpack episode: Ep #7 Travel Hacks

Gary Tacon Body Tuning Pillow: https://thebodytuningcushion.com/

Remix Vintage Shoes: https://remixvintageshoes.com/

Streak Free Cleaner: Sprayway glass cleaner


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. 

Well, hello. Hello, my friend. Welcome. I’m Dana. This is words that move me. And, um, whether you are new to the pod or one of my regulars, isn’t it cool to be a regular, by the way, I want it to be a regular in more places. Anyways, whether you’re new or a regular, I am stoked to have you for this 100th episode. What the heck you guys, I did a thing. I’m so sorry about this.  (Air Horn Noises) Yeah. I downloaded several apps before I found the one that really makes me feel the celebratory come on. I mean, I really do love a good mile marker a milestone, and this one is super special because this episode also falls the day before Thanksgiving.

 And my win today is also podcast related. Um, if you are new to the podcast, we start every episode with wins. So let’s get right into that because it’s exciting. Not only am I celebrating episode 100, which is actually technically episode 105 due to bonus episodes and stories but I am also celebrating surpassing my goal of a hundred thousand downloads. Holy smokes. (Air Horn Noises) I’m going to stop. Um, yeah, that’s it. That happened. I kind of forgot to keep an eye on that on the, on the listens downloads metrics for a couple of months. Um, and the last time I checked in a couple of days ago, we were sitting pretty at 103,000 some and counting. So thank you all for listening. Please do download episodes. You have to click an extra button for that. Sorry. I just love pushing buttons. We all love pushing buttons. Um, it’s great because you can push the button. You can download the episode. It also, what it really means is that you get to have the podcast with you even when are not online. So when you are on an airplane or a train, or maybe if your carrier is T-Mobile in general, um, shade, sorry about that. T-Mobile, it’s been a long relationship, but uh, really truly downloading the podcasts, keeps it with you. Um, makes them a little bit more easily accessible for you. And if you’re really feeling AOL, please do leave a review and rating because that makes it easier for other people to find the podcast and sharing is caring. Let’s go, okay, that’s my win. 103,000 downloads and counting. Yes. Now you go, what’s going well in your world.  

Amazing congratulations and keep winning. I’m proud of you takes a lot to be winning out there in the world. Cruel cruel world. This is a man’s world of listening to a lot of James Brown. Lately uh, we’ll get into that in a second, but first up when I know, I’m sorry, I’m just going to keep winning all over the place. I taught a Monday night masterclass for the performing arts center here in LA and it was so, so, so much fun. Shout out to all who came and got funky with me, literally hot and sweaty. But, um, I I’m bringing this up because at the end of class I made sort of a joke. Um, in preparation for Thanksgiving, I asked everyone to state out loud, something that they are grateful for on the count of three. So I said 1, 2, 3, and then there was this indecipherable cacophony that happened in a really, really loved this marbly rumbly sound where you could maybe make out part of a word.  Um, so we did it like three or four times in a row. And I joked that I would like to have everyone that was in class. Come on the podcast for a little 1, 2, 3 gratitude game, and just do that for 30 to 45 minutes. And I do still think that that is a great idea, but whoa, lots to coordinate. So maybe I’ll put that in the parking lot for next year today, I am rounding out 100 episodes and a nod to being thankful on Thanksgiving by listing 100 things. I am grateful for. I promise this episode, won’t read like a grocery list or listen, it won’t listen like grocery list. How do you say that? How would I say that? If you’re not reading you’re listening? Hmm. It won’t feel like I’m reading you my grocery list. That’s what I’m trying to say. Um, because there are some fun little stories and anecdotes in there, but let me tell you what I got to places while making this list where I was seriously looking at my life, like, damn, is this real?  Is it I’m living a dream? This is incredible. Wow. Is this so great? And I also got to places where I thought really is that all you’ve got is that like a really, we’re going to be grateful for red wine right now. Really that okay. A little shallow perhaps, but I digress. It was a ride. I love this little project and I encourage every one of you to try it on for size. Here we go. 100 things. I am grateful for get ready. Oh, preface. This is going to seem like this list goes in order of importance. I assure you it does not, but it will seem like that. At first, this is a, a, a wandering weave through my mind. And my mind does not always work in order of importance, shocker, creative, human being, um, with a relatively short attention span. How does one measure their attention span?  Like what are the units of measurement for an attention span? See, there we go here. 

What are a hundred things that I am grateful for? We’re going to start off with my voice, my body, which is where my voice lives, my home, which is where my body lives, music, dance, and Daniel, my husband, and the vice chief five down already. Holy smokes. I’m grateful for my parents. And let me get real specific here. I’m grateful for the hard decisions that they made to split up was one of those decisions. I’m grateful for them and their choices and their jobs. My dad, the dentist, my mom, the flight attendant. So I got no cavities and to travel the world for free shout out parentals. Thanks for that. I’m grateful for my mom’s artistic nature, art and colorful things have been a part of my life since I was very young. And for that, I am very grateful. I’m grateful for my brother and my sister who are hysterical and supportive in kind and loving and foolish in all the great ways. It wasn’t until pretty recently, actually like as an adult that I sort of found out, not everybody likes their siblings. Not everybody gets along with their siblings. So I have to count that as a blessing. I love you, bro. Love you, sis. Big, big deal that I get to be your sister, I think is pretty sweet.  

Ready for the deep dive on shallow things. Well, here comes number 10. I am so grateful for what? For red wine. I have been drinking too much red wine. I’m kidding, it’s actually been a while since my last glass of red wine, but I love that stuff. I also love and am grateful for dark chocolate specifically at trader Joe’s. They have a 100% dark chocolate. It’s called Montezuma’s. Montezuma’s something Montezuma’s dark chocolate. As far as I’m concerned that stuff tastes like some combination of asphalt and dirt and straight up nibs. And I just love it. I love it so much. It is such a palate cleanser for me, most people wince, when they taste it, I’ve stopped sharing it with people because usually the response is not a good response. Um, but I love me some, what is it called? Hold on. I’m going to look it up.  

Yes. Got him. Montezuma’s absolute black. 100% dark chocolate with cocoa nibs. Did he say cacao or do you say Coca-Cola or do you say cocoa wall? What do you, how do you say that word? Cocoa nibs. Wow. Y’all I might just be buying a case of that. You know what? I’m not pumping the brakes a little on the dark chocolate and the red wine and the coffee, which, oh, I left coffee out of my list. That’s how, you know, times are changing. Um, since vocal cord surgery, I have been, uh, shifting to a lower, relatively lower acid diet. So it will not be buying a crate of Montezuma’s. Absolutely. What is it? Absolute dark, 100% asphalt chocolate moving right along number 12, reusable straws. Y’all I have so many, I could start a small wind orchestra. I could weave them together and build a little flute like Peter pan has.  

Speaker 0    00:12:10    I use some for straw donations for voice therapy, but mostly I just use them because I love ocean wildlife. And I don’t like the idea of hurting ocean creatures with my sipping straws. You know? Sorry. We’re moving on. Um, while we’re on the subject of water though, and the ocean waterproof notebooks, you probably don’t know until you’ve been on set of a movie or music video, how crucial it is to have a waterproof notebook because nine times out of 10, there’s going to be water. Why pavement looks better when it’s wet, concrete looks better when it’s wet dancers usually look better when they’re wet. So all of you listening should invest in a waterproof notebook. That brings me to number 14, posted freaking notes. Can you imagine a world without a post-it note?  That was my phone saying no, what can’t um, I can’t either. I really love them. Use them all the time. Think they’re the greatest number 15, kind of on the opposite side of the eco-friendly spectrum. I am really, really super grateful for tampons. Can we just reflect on times, medieval times before tampons? I just, wow. That’s not the life for me. Um, and I’ll be real honest. I have tried the cup. I can’t do it. It’s too much information for the podcast, but shit went wrong. It really did go wrong. Um, I’m a tampon person, very grateful for those. They are number 15 on the list. It’s not an order. Number 16, the Lord of the rings trilogy. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for any length of time, you know that if this were an order of importance list, LOT are, would be in the top, like probably 10. So this is just my wandering brain number 17, Justin freaking Timberlake. You’re you’re just, you’re the greatest. I’m grateful. Marty. Kudelka you too. My friend. I am so grateful for you for your friendship, for your mentorship, for your friend tour ship.  

By the way, I’m also grateful for portmanteaus portmanteaus are the, uh, it’s the, it’s the actual technical word, a word gather. When you splice two words together to make them one word it’s later, later down the list. We’ll talk about it later. I am grateful for Tony freaking Basil, this woman, oh, probably the most mentioned person on the podcast. She’s my dance mom. We’re going to leave it at that for now, until she actually comes on the podcast and explain herself to you with more dynamics than that. Um, but she is one of the most dynamic women that I have ever known and gotten to learn from firsthand. Uh, certainly one of the funkiest people I’ve ever met, I’m grateful for funk, by the way, I’m grateful for this new book that I got. I got this textbook that is all about funk and it is like an actual textbook, but I got it in a PDF form.   Don’t worry. It’s still cost like $80 because it is a ridiculous mass of information. But I didn’t want to read this definition of funk, especially because I talk about keeping it funky on the podcast, literally in every episode. And I wanted to, uh, read you this definition of funk. According to George Clinton, the George Clinton of P-Funk Funkadelic, the funkiest in a rolling stone interview. George Clinton said that funk is quote, anything. You need it to be to save your life. It is a way of getting out of that bind that you get in mentally and physically. Wow. I love that so much. Funk is anything you need it to be to save your life. It is a way of getting out of that bind that you get into mentally and physically hell yes, I am grateful for funk. I am also extremely grateful for the thing that saves my life every time I think about it, the thing and the people, the seaweed, sisters, Jillian Meyers, and Megan Lawson. I love you. You are the funkiest thing in the world to me, I’m going to cry you guys. This is so good. 

That brings us to number 22. I really like this one a lot. I am so grateful for not having a quote real job, unquote, that is very closely related to number 23. I’m so grateful that I don’t have to go to school for someone who loves learning so much. I love really, really, really love not going to school. I used to throw legendary tantrums, apocalyptic tantrums about going to school. I just hated going to school. I didn’t mind being at school really, but going there, I hated it so genuinely every day that I don’t have to go to school. I’m remembering my young, young self. And I’m like, you did it. He really, you got through it and now you don’t have to go to school anymore. I’m so grateful for that. Um, well, let’s see. Where was it? Ah, yes. I’m grateful for dancing in big spaces. I’m grateful for musicals. I love musicals. It’s embarrassing. How much I love musicals because I think maybe historically they’re not the coolest thing to really, really love, but I really, really loved them. I’m grateful for beach bonfires and, and while I’m on the subject of fire, I am grateful for candles. I am becoming a person that really likes to have candles burning and really grateful that that has never gone wrong in my life. I am grateful for thrift stores. Holy smokes. I love them. I am grateful for hairstylists that really get curly hair. I am grateful for photographers and directors and DPS that really get dance. I am grateful for recording artists that share the spotlight with dance. I am grateful for the internet.  

I’m grateful for, um, I’m gonna say this wrong you guys, but I’m going to try my best Grifters pest steals, pesty lace. I don’t know what, I’m pretty sure. G R E T H E R S P a S T I L L E S. I’m particularly far they’re like throat lozenges for throat and voice with glycerin and elderflower extract. Um, I have, my favorite is the elderflower flavor. So I’m going to go ahead and throw elder flower on my list of grateful things as well. I love these dudes. Um, they keep my voice feeling so good. So shout out you guys whose name? I can’t pronounce. Oh wow. This is big one. I am grateful for Munos tacos. My husband introduced me to Muno and his legendary barbacoa probably six years ago, downtown LA. And recently we came to learn that Muno has a daughter and Munos daughter has a truck here in the valley, kind of in the, I guess it’s technically Northridge area.  Um, I believe the cross streets at this time and you know how these, these trucks are, they can, they can move. That’s kind of the point, uh, Sherman way. And Hayvenhurst, Sherman way Haven Hayvenhurst, but they’re not there every day of the week. Um, that is how you know it’s good is that it runs out and when it runs out, they’re not there. Muno, thank you for your tacos. That brings us to number 35, sticking a kind of staying on a food thought, Pho 87 downtown on Broadway, wholly smokes it’s the best shout out Tim. Thinking about you. 

Number 36. Wow. I’m grateful for teaching. Sometimes. I really do think that if I didn’t like teaching so much, I might not choreograph. I actually choreograph primarily to be teaching and sharing. I love sharing dance and teaching might be my favorite way of doing that related to dance indirectly. I really, really love. And I’m grateful for leggings that don’t make me want to die. Leggings are not my favorite. If you know me in person, think about the last time you saw me wearing a legging. It doesn’t happen because they’re hard for me to find. I don’t know. I don’t know. That’s that’s it. I have a few pairs of leggings that are really, really love. I’m grateful for them. Thank you, leggings. I’m grateful for the carwash across the street that finally shut up. I mean, it’s happening right now. I can hear it, but very quietly. You probably can’t, which is awesome. Thank you, ocean carwash for getting your *bleep together. Um, I am grateful for my external disc drive. Um, like my external, like a USB DVD, like actual disc player for my desktop, which allows me to make use of my extensive DVD collection, which I’m also grateful for, but it did not garner its own place on the gratitude list.  I don’t know how you guys, it’s just my brain. That brings us to number 40. I’m grateful for the X-Files. And I’m just going to say that here. And I’m just going to leave that I’m grateful for the house that I grew up in, in lake shore on a man-made lake with like three eyed fish in five legged, frogs and ducks and duck poop everywhere. Um, that house was really something special and I’m grateful for it. I am grateful for Romy and Michele’s high school reunion for gifting me with the aspiration of wearing colors and dressing, not like a little boy, but like a grownup woman, a plate playful, bold grown-up woman. Um, love that movie. Love it so much. It really was a huge part of my stylistic awakening as a young person. Um, I am grateful for my nieces, Amelia and Charlotte. Oh my gosh. You light me up. I’m grateful for my extended family. Holy cow. I definitely could have, should have mentioned them earlier, but jackpot reaches Jensen’s I love you. I am so grateful to have you as my extended brothers, sisters, moms, dads, nieces, nephews, family, y’all are truly something else I got. So lucky.  

Number 45, embarrassing like how is it that I can be this, this shallow? I dunno, but it it’s, it’s real. This is something I really am grateful for. Serve yourself. Frozen yogurt paid for by the ounce. To me, this food revelation is even more important than Postmates. Like the day I could get my hands on my own frozen yogurt and just get a little bit if I want, like, it was a really big day for me. I’m really, really grateful for that. That’s it? I’m just, that’s, it’s part of who I am. I’m a person who really enjoys yogurt land. I’m just going to say and sorry if I’m ruffling any Pinkberry fans out there, but it’s just not it for me. It’s yogurt land through and through. But if you are a person who’s lived in LA for a really long time, then you know that yogurt land aint *bleep where it’s really at his studio city, frozen yogurt, rest in peace, 

moving right along, oddly this cropped up to my mind and I it’s, it’s, it’s strong. This is strong, but it’s kind of like, fear-based, I’m really grateful that I learned how to drive on a manual transmission because I’m constantly afraid that somewhere out there in the world, something might happen. Natural disaster carjacking. I don’t know. And I might have to escape from zombies and the only available car might be a manual transmission. And I’m just really glad that I learned how to do that when I was young. And now it’s in my bones, although it has been awhile moving right along, I’m grateful for Peloton because if the zombie apocalypse happened, I could ride a bike for a long time. Well, I could ride a stationary bike for a really long. It’s been a while since I wrote an actual bike. I should try that again. Um, it’s just keeps getting better. I’m grateful for electric toothbrushes. Anyone else? God, nothing like that.  Clean. Sometimes on convention weekends. I don’t bring it. I just use like the old fashioned handheld toothbrush. And then I get home Sunday night and I’m like walk in the door and go for my toothbrush because I love that clean tooth feeling. Number 49, creeping up on 50 here I am so grateful for Google drive slash the Google suite. I understand it. It makes sense. It’s all in one place is pretty intuitive. I mean, spreadsheets I’m getting there, but for the most part, woof, my life exists there. Oh man. Number 50 special, super grateful for my cannon. Vic SIA mini. That is the camera that was with me and almost single-handedly, which is a funny thing to say, but it is also true because the camera’s tiny. Single-handedly responsible for my 420 some consecutive days of doing daily. That camera, the Canon Vixy mini is the greatest thing on the market.  As far as I’m concerned, it is still my favorite camera. I don’t go anywhere without it. Big love. Speaking of don’t go anywhere without my Lulu lemon cruiser backpack 2014 edition. If you don’t already know how I feel about this backpack, I have an episode dedicated exclusively to it. I don’t remember the episode number right now, but it’ll be in the show notes promise. I mean, I’ve got feelings about backpacks number 52 related the backpack sized foam roller from go pro no, go roll, go someone. It will also be in the show notes, but unfortunately you have to find that and the Lulu lemon cruiser on eBay, because they are not making these items anymore.  

Fools, speaking of foolish, number 53, those silicone miniature hands and feet, you know, the tiny, tiny hands and feet that they make. Oh, I’m so grateful that somebody thought of that and then made those because cheap thrills I’m grateful. Speaking of cheap, cheap thrills, the hours that I’ve spent on Tumblr, I am so grateful for Tumblr. Tumbler is, I mean, for different reasons, ranks superior to Instagram. Actually Instagram is not on my list at all. That’s interesting. I am grateful for Tumblr and I’m grateful for memes. Memes really did get their own item on my gratitude list because they helped me make sense of the world. And I love that. I am also grateful for inner reader, which is my RSS feed. Um, it’s how I learned about the things that are on the internet and they just come to me instead of me having to go to them. I hope that makes sense. Shout out in a reader. Um, I love, love, love, and I’m grateful for jumbo, Sharpies and jumbo notepads because sometimes big ideas need big pens and paper. I stand by that sticking to it. I’m also grateful for sidewalk chalk because sometimes big ideas need to be written on the sidewalk and sometimes small ideas and sometimes no ideas, but just flowers and shapes and rainbows. I’m also grateful for comedians and clowns because I love to be laughing. And I think comedians and clowns have a tremendous responsibility. I admire them. I’m grateful that they exist. I’d like to be one someday.

Number 60, I’m grateful for peanut butter, nut butter in general, but oof, I put peanut butter on everything. Don’t test me. Don’t even test me. Name something, name something. I’ll put peanut butter on it. Broccoli. Yep. You better believe it. Steamed or raw? I don’t care carrots. Yes. I, 100% dip carrots in peanut butter. Um, spoon for example, I definitely put peanut butter on a spoon and we’ll just eat that. Um, taking a page out of the Ted lasso playbook, I will just dip my finger into the peanut butter jar and then lick that finger until the peanut butter is gone. Oh guys, here we go. Here we are. It really feel like we’re getting closer.  Um, oh, let’s see. Here we go. Hummus. I’m grateful for hummus. And I do want to add here that there are some things that are simply not worth making yourself and hummus and peanut butter are two of those things. Those things you just should buy. 

Um, oh my God. I am grateful for my clogs. You guys, Jesus Christ. My clogs. Um, I love my clogs more than I love any other shoe that I’ve ever owned ever, including my first pair of Pointe shoes. My super-sweet Tom Ford shoes from tour. I mean really? They are the best. Um, they’re made by a company called, oh, hold on. Okay. I know I can remember it it’s cause I can’t pronounce it. It’s spelled F E I T, which might be like a clever way of saying feet or it might be fiance. I really, I really don’t know.  But um, I got them, I got these clogs like three or four years ago at the store in Soho in New York fit F E I T I dunno. And um, they came with a little hand signed note from the man who hand made them and they were not cheap, but they were worth every single penny. Every time I put them on, I make an audible remark about how wonderful they are and how great I feel in them. And I do not feel bad about finding such tremendous pleasure in something so tremendously materialistic as a pair of clogs, but they’ve got Lamb’s wool inside of them. They’re stacked. They have like work boot rubber soles. Oh, too good. Um, where was I? Great clogs. I’m grateful for exfoliating gloves. How about that little guys you were in the shower. I love a good scrub. I am grateful for Epsom salt because I love a good soak and it really, really does make a difference if you were a dancer or physical performer that does not believe in Epsom baths.  It’s probably because you haven’t given them a chance. I feel tremendously different when I take Epsom baths regularly. Just think about it while we’re on the body tuning front. I am so grateful for my body tuning pillow. Shout out Gary, TechOne the man that designed this pillow. He is formerly a stint corridor ne wo coordinator. Um, he is a movement coach. He worked on the Irishman and um, I can’t remember how I came upon Gary and this body tuning pillow, but it really changed the game for me. I lay on this thing at least five minutes a day, so great. Will 100% be linking in the show notes. Uh, this one’s nice. I’m so grateful for my dance studio. Michelle Latimer also like mentioned in every other episode, probably. Um, Michelle Latimer dance academy is where I grew up, um, to, to Michelle and the studio.  I owe everything that community brought me valuable training and relationships and is really the reason why I am me, brought me my best friends, shout out Chelsea and brought me my inspirations. Shout out Nina McNeely and um, so many sources of many more. And, uh, man, oh, so grateful for Michelle and the studio. I am grateful for Tevia Celiy my spin teacher and super guru wonder woman. Like probably a Demi God, I wouldn’t be shocked if later like a hundred and some years from now, we find out that like Greek mythology is real and Tevia Ceily is the descendant of some God of stamina and resilience. Um, Tevia shout out, love you. Thank you for your impact on my life. Um, I’m grateful for growing up with pets, shout out blanche and Sluggo, the English bulldogs, shout out cookie and peanut and chip. They were hamsters.  Also shout out Mike and Ike, the salamanders. Ooh, not such a good end for them. And they’re going to talk about it. Also Sadie, our bulldog boxer mix and Maxwell Maxwell was duck. We, um, we found him orphaned in our backyard and raised him and named him after the Beatles song. Um, oh and tequila, my Senegal parrot. Now I know that sounds kind of maybe like a, maybe was raised on a farm, but it was raised for 18 years in the suburbs and having that many pets over 18 years. Isn’t that extreme? Isn’t I think it’s pretty normal. Oh man. I can’t wait to meet my future dog. I think I’m going to name him. Lock lock, like the locking move lock lock, or maybe restorable or cheese undecided. I will take a pet name recommendations by the way. Definitely open to that. Go ahead and send a little DM to word the move me podcast.   Always down to hear good pet names. Um, okay. Wow. This is taking longer than I thought. Number 72, my coaches and my coach certification. These tools. I do not know what I would do without. Um, oh my God. I’m so grateful for external hard drives because locks L O C K S S lots of copies keeps stuff safe. If you were waiting for a sign that you need to go back up, your hard drives and your laptop and go do a cloud sync or whatever it is that you do, go do it. Go do it right now. You will not be mad that you did. Oh, weird. Yes. This one’s true. I am grateful for TheraBands. Really grateful for TheraBands because you get a good workout with those and they weigh nothing. So they travel really well. I am grateful for dance studios. I am grateful for dance studio owners.   I’m grateful for people who create space, where dance can be. I’m grateful for remixed vintage dance shoes, show notes, just go. Just do it. Just definitely, definitely go click that link. I’m grateful for eggs. Always have eggs. I’m grateful for my notes app on my iPhone. You all. It is so deep. It is really a very, very rich place in my phone life. I’m grateful for therapy. This is a new place in my, in my life. It also is rich and is affording me so much opportunity to learn and understand myself in my world holey smokes. And with that, my friend, we are going to take a very brief intermission for a few words from our sponsors.  

Say like, uh, there are no sponsors for this episode. I know I’m mentioning a lot of products and things, but I want to be really clear that none of these are paid promotions. These are just the things in my life that I love. And I want to tell you about, um, so there is that there are no sponsors, this is a fake intermission, but a good time to breathe, right? 80 we’re way more than halfway through. Get ready for, um, 80 plus of the things that I am grateful for and more of this funky, funky music.  

Okay. We’re back. And we’re digging right in to number 80, number 80 we’re there. I am grateful for ice packs and heating pads in my 35 years of dance life. I have come to be so appreciative for these two items. Um, actually I’m standing right now with one of these like rice rice bag, hot pack things. You just pop it in the microwave. I wear it on my shoulders or wrap it around my neck, big, big fan of this thing. And then I’ve been traveling when I go out for a conventions and whatnot. Um, I travel with reusable, Ziploc bags, and I use those, um, to fill up with the ice machine with the ice, fill up with ice from the ice machine. Um, and yeah, I sing, my knees is part of my almost daily routine. I just love the feeling of snow caps on my kneecaps, big, big fan.  

Um, oh man, I am grateful that I’m a person who is comfortable like air travel totally comfortable for me. And I take that for granted. I am so grateful for that. And that tracks back to the mom is a flight attendant thing. Um, I am grateful for trader Joe’s. Don’t even get me into the products themselves that I’m grateful for. We’re just going to wrap it up with trader Joe’s super stoked about that. I am really grateful for streak free glass cleaner. There’s this particular brand that my husband got me on. I use it on my computer screen. I use it on the mirrors in the studio. I use it on the microwave because somehow that things just gets greasy and typical Windex stuff. Doesn’t really handle it. This streak free glass cleaner is the one show notes. This is not an ad. I’m just being real with you.  Um, okay. Number 84, this one was tough because I also hate them, but I’m really grateful for hangers. I really do love them and hate them. Um, but I couldn’t wouldn’t want to live without them. Um, I joke with my husband sometimes whose work is in materials and his work is his tools. His shop is full of his tools. My shop is empty. Like my shop is a dance studio, but my tools are my clothes and I love my closet. It’s one of those deep walk-in closets. And I simply do not know what I would do without a method for which to hang all of my tools. Um, so I love hangers, but if you were to ask me for what my idea of hell might look like, it would be a box of hangers just strewn inside hangers or Ooh, maybe really the worst actually, but grateful.  Did you hear that hangers? I love you be kind to me. Um, well, where am I? This is gone left, uh, right street, free glass, cleaner hangers. Um, I am grateful for my basic sewing knowledge. I can handle a button. I can handle a him. I can handle, um, uh, an invisible seem like I can sew up a hole on something. I’m pretty grateful for that. Honestly, I can thread a sewing machine pretty quickly, but I think I prefer to do two like hand stitch. And I know how to do that if I have to do that ever. Um, another tough one.  Oh no, this is not a tough one. I am grateful for my mom’s super sowing, super talent. The idea that I can make my own costumes and that they can be awesome. I get that from her and I love to be making my own things, my own costumes, my own worlds. Um, it’s been awhile, but the seaweed sisters, I think I celebrated in a recent episode, we have a win coming up in those are, we finished, uh, shooting a new project and the costumes that you will see in this new project are very handmade as are many of the things in the world that we will show you in this upcoming video, a very handmade place. I’m excited about it. Um, oh man.

 Oh yes. I am so grateful for growing up before social media happened. Really super grateful for that. Um, wait, repeat you guys. No way learning how to drive a stick shift is on here. Again.  

 I didn’t even know it was that real for me, but I guess I’m doubly grateful for that. Okay. Here we go. Fun one. I’m grateful for growing up in a col-de-sac you can learn things, um, without the fear of dying or being hit by a car. Um, yeah, I think that’s really what it comes down to. That’s where I learned how to ride a bike. And that’s where I learned how to hit a baseball, which will struggle. Um, we had a handful of block parties there. I remember riding a skateboard, but like on my knees, like using my arms is as propulsion and just like scooting around on my knees in the middle of a col de sac, weird. Um, also had great neighbors growing up, shout out to the cost is that he bollix the Western amens. Oh my goodness. Growing up at the lake shore, that was a special thing. I am grateful for seaweed snacks. I simply love them all so much. And I know I already said it, but it really does bear repeating. I am so grateful for the seaweed sisters. I have to say it twice. Um, oh, number 91. Okay. So we’re almost there home stretch. I’m grateful for Eataly because I can shop and eat like I’m in Italy, but not go to Italy, which is more expensive. Debatable. Actually you could spend a lot of money in Italy, but I’m so grateful that there one in Los Angeles now, because it really does feel like I can take a vacation, um, for a hours and then be back home for dinner. Uh, I am grateful for many teachers. If you know me, you know, I love a tiny, tiny, tiny, small thing. That is a small thing. That is a representation of a big thing.  Um, miniatures make me feel big feelings. Uh, this is another reason why I think the Lord of the rings trilogy is so perfect because they used miniatures in an incredible way on the production of that film. Um, oh man. Okay. Here it is. 93. I’m grateful for portmanteaus. We talked about it already, but the word gather thing, I derive a crazy pleasure from building these word gathers. Um, and I just wanted to let you in on my most recent, I was responsible for organizing the secret Santa, um, for my husband’s side of the family. And I wanted to create a portmanteau, a code name for Santa and Dana, and that portmanteau wound up being Santana. And I will just leave you with that. Um, I’m grateful for the ocean and living near it. I am grateful for inflatable mattress pumps because no I don’t love sleeping on the floor and I don’t love the thought of blowing up a full size mattress with my lungs.  I am grateful for professional movers. I, I really believe in the value of professional moving teams. And I believe in the value of professional cleaners, I haven’t had one for a very long time because I also enjoy cleaning my place, but I really am grateful for clean spaces and professional cleaning people. I’m tremendously grateful for my guests on the podcast. All of whom are my friends who are willing to share their words that move them. I’m tremendously grateful for my team. Riley Higgins, Malia Baker, Andrew vibal, Flo who did my website, Bee Reetz for the logo max Winnie for those jams that you hear the top and bottom. And during winds of every episode, my husband who built my podcast booth guys a hundred episodes, definitely doesn’t happen alone. And that brings me to number 100. I’m grateful for you. People who listen, people who are curious and people who I feel very connected to, although I may not have met you yet.  I think this is a very special thing that we have going on here and I don’t plan on stopping. So cheers to the next 200. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for being here. Oh, and I totally forgot we’re doing a contest. I’m giving away $100 cash. It’s a hundredth episode, super giveaway. You have one week from today. I think, oh man, I don’t remember the contest details. Go over to Instagram at where the movie podcasts and check that out. Um, because holy smokes, I’m excited to give away a hundred dollars in cash. Um, the way that you enter is by posting a story or post on your feed, tagging nine people, plus words that move me, who you think would love the podcast. Um, they do have to be, uh, every, every time you do this counts as one entry, but it has to be different names for it to count as two entries.  

That wasn’t a very clear way of explaining what I am trying to explain. Um, head over to where’s the movie podcasts on Instagram to learn more about the drawing, um, enter as many times as you would like. And I hope that you win a hundred dollars in celebration of my hundredth episode. Thank you. So, so, so much for listening. Go get out there, get grateful. And of course, keep it super funky. I’ll talk to you soon. Me again. Wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you’re digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don’t forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review your words. Move me to number two things I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit the dinners and.com for links to free workshops. And so, so much more. All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.

Ep. #99 Creativity is Diversity with Jonathan Batista

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #99 Creativity is Diversity with Jonathan Batista

We have a long way to go before we reach TOTAL diversity, equity and inclusion in the ballet industry, but today’s guest is hopeful and full of heart.  Jonathan Batista was born in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, and went on to train at The Royal Ballet School in London, England, before graduating from the English National Ballet School and Trinity College London with a degree in dance. That was the very begging of a long and unusual professional career. As a person of color, he has a voice and advocates change for diversity and inclusion in the ballet world.  In 2021, Jonathan won the Art Culture & Music Award by The TAF AWARD FOUNDATION, and in this episode, we celebrate him for his work, journey, and the future of ballet.


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. 

Hello, hello, my friend. Welcome to The Words That. Move Me. I’m Dana. This is my podcast. This is my excited voice because I am so excited to share this conversation that I just had with my new friend, Jonathan Batista. Jonathan was a principal dancer with Oklahoma city ballet for many, many years. He is now a soloist for Pacific Northwest ballet. Shout out to all my listeners up in Seattle. If you get a chance to go see Jonathan perform their Nutcracker season is about to start.  So get ya booty to go see Pacific Northwest ballet. Um, Jonathan and I, uh, spoke before this interview a little bit about the life of a principal dancer for a ballet company. Y’all this person is so what is the word I’m looking for? Focused deliberate, um, energized, motivated, disciplined, I mean, wow. All of the good things that all of these virtuous qualities that we reserve for people who are out there doing it, but also a human, a real kind human being that I so enjoyed talking to. Um, so in our preliminary chat, we talked about his morning routine, which starts at 4:30 in the morning, meditation workout, you know, body self-care thought work. Um, and then off to the gym before heading into the studio for full rehearsal day, we didn’t dig into those nuts and bolts. In this episode, um, we kept our conversation focused on something quite different, which much, much deserves much, much attention. Um, we talked about what it means to be a person of color in the ballet industry, a lot to discuss there. Jonathan had some really great insights and, and hopeful words and sentiments. 

Um, I’m excited to share all that with you, but first let’s do wins. I am so jazzed about my win today because my win today, which is a little bit early, it’s a pre celebration, um, is that next week’s episode will be our 100th episode. Now, technically I think it’s actually like 107 or 106, because I started with episode 0.5. We like to sprinkle in bonus episodes here and there, but like, if we’re sticking to the number next week is 100 and celebrate. I’m going to give $100 cash away to one of you listening, perhaps. Um, this will be an Instagram contest. All you have to do is tag words that move me podcast. All one word, no spaces, no dashes, no nothing fancy, um, tag words that move me podcast and nine people that you think would enjoy listening to the pod. This could be in the form of, you know, your own photo that you post a talking head video of yourself, perhaps leaving, um, a few of your takeaways or sentiments about the podcast. You could also repost any one of our previous posts or episode posts, um, in your story, again, be sure to tag words that move me podcast and nine people you think would love to listen each time you do that counts as one entry. So if you do a lot of that, you stand a lot of chance to win $100 cash from my home wallet to yours via the US postal service. I’m so excited about this. I haven’t like put cash in an envelope in awhile.  Shout out Venmo, shout out PayPal. Um, so I’m excited about this. I’m excited to celebrate 100 episodes with you. Excited to ship out some greenbacks or probably just one greenback greenback. Did anybody else call money greenback? Anyways, I digress. That’s what’s going well in my world. I’m pre celebrating episode 100 and letting you know about our contest, if you’re confused about anything I just said, which might be the case because they didn’t have it written down. That was just stream of consciousness, head over to words the move me podcast for the next week on Instagram. I will be sure to be posting a lot about this contest. So you have all the important information. Okay. That’s it for me handing the mic to you. What is going well in your world? Tell me all about it.  

 Yes. My friend, you are winning congrats, so proud of you, virtual hug. I hope you felt it. Let’s talk Jonathan Batista. And then let’s talk with Jonathan Batista. Jonathan, as I mentioned is a tremendously passionate kindhearted individual with so much drive. His drive has taken him from his birth town town. Rio de Janeiro is not a town birth city. Um, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, all over the world, dancing for some tremendously renowned ballet companies. Hearing about his experience as a person of color in the ballet industry was fascinating to me. Um, brought up a lot of questions that I have a lot of concerns that I have. And I think this conversation, um, certainly is an ongoing one, but will be helpful for you to be a part of. I can’t wait to hear what you think about it. I hope that you learn a lot and, um, I hope that you keep it super duper funky. I’ll talk to you guys later. Enjoy this conversation with Jonathan Batista, 

Dana: Jonathan Batista. Welcome to words that move me. Thank you so much for being here.

Jonathan: Thank you so much for having me.  

Dana: I’m delighted. And I want to get in to this conversation because I know it will be illuminating. Um, but what did we start in the, in the, uh, in the lazy river, um, I want to hear to the degree of depth that you choose, um, any information that you would like for us to know about you? I think you’re certainly newer to me and might be new to my listeners as well. Uh, go ahead and dish. What, what would you like us to know about you?  

Jonathan: Yes, well, um, my name is Jonathan Battista. I was born in Brazil. I was born in Rio, uh, the city of so many great things. You know, you talk about culture, we talk about Samba, talk about art music and, um, so much to offer. So I come from a very wealthy cultural background, um, which is the country itself, which is Brazil. And I started training. Um, well, I would say I started doing a lot of things as a young man. Um, my parents kept me very busy. You know, I went from sports to martial arts, um, music, theater. Um, what else, um, you name it until I found ballet or I would say ballet found me. I truly believe that. Right. I truly believe that ballet was an art form art form that shows me because I was not interested at first. Um, I think there was a lot of resistance for me to dance, but I was a dancer, a natural dancer already. I started dancing with the ballroom in school, academic school, they would have a program or two  

Was this, uh, uh, I’m sure school in Brazil is very different than it is here. The equivalent of a public school and dance was part of the curriculum.  

That’s right. It was a public school and, and it was a part of the curriculum to take dance classes. And so I did take ballroom and my teacher just looked at me and said, look, I believe you have something there. You have a gift for dance. And you know, I’m a kid I’m here playing soccer and going to a karate class Capitol era and music, studying music history, and ballet would be the last thing that I would have thought about. Hmm. But in my journey, I think that my mom really took what my teacher, um, had said. And really, I thought, well, let me, let me introduce him to dance classes. And I started with, uh, Jess tap class for the kind of a combo class. Yes. Which is the usual. Right. And you go into a studio, you do tap and jazz, and then quickly, because I was also the only male down.  So the only men, the only boy at that time in the studio, you were also included in ballet classes, right there was signed up immediately. And so that’s how I started my journey. So ballet class started and I used to be teased a lot because I was the only man in ballet. And, and I don’t think that really had, um, this way to do it all. I’d say right now, I was just happy to be there, I guess. And from there I joined a, a more professional of a professional ballet school and with a full scholarship. And that’s how I started my journey. And from there on, you know, uh, I received a scholarship to go to Miami state about this school, uh, in Florida and I returned to Brazil. And then I was also, uh, awarded the, a full scholarship with college integrative college for English national ballet school. At 15 years old.

So is that, is that what brought you here?

Yes. So at 15 I went to London, actually I went to London and the United Kingdom to study, um, ballet and dance. I did a short stay at the Royal ballet school. I think it’s at the summer of 2009. And, um, and from there on, I stayed three years in England with a full scholarship. I attended Trinity college. Uh, we also had a few courses with Cambridge university and I was so naive to all of these great moments in my life because I, I always had a sense of giving my all to these opportunities that I didn’t even know that I was attending college at that time. I was just studying. 

What did you think you were doing?  

I have no idea. I thought, well, I guess this is the part of ballet.  

Oh, I see. Okay. This is like, this is your training training training in ballet means receiving all of this, this training,  

Correct. You receiving all the information, all of the training, all of the studies. And so it wasn’t until I moved to my uni because I, I suffered a, a, an injury. I moved to Miami and then from Miami, I moved to Canada. Um, and I receive a letter in the mail and that was my diploma or, uh, uh, my diploma in dance, but Trinity college and English national ballet school. And I was just like, wow, this is fantastic.  

I do that. You literally lived the dream of college and you woke up one day and it was over. And you had your diploma that way. I’m sure. There’s so, so many of my listeners are listening. Like, could it just be that way for me please? I keep waking up and I’m still here. That’s fascinating. Okay. Carry on. Keep going. What happened next?  

Yeah, I, and then from there I went to Canada, um, went to Canada. I was an apprentice with the national ballet of Canada. I had a great steak with a company. I learned a lot. And from that journey from veterinary, with the national ballet of Canada, I was forwarded or recommended to Boston ballet. And that’s how I came back to the United States. And with the Boston ballet, I spent two years, uh, and with the company, I had a lot of great opportunities. I think it really defined my career on that moment. Um, I had, uh, lots of soloist, uh, soloist opportunity to perform solos, uh, featured roles, principal roles as well. And, but as a younger man, I I’ve always been in search of more or exploring my story, exploring myself. And I’ve always thought, well, you know what, if I have to move somewhere, if I have to try something, I do have the energy to try it. Now I was about 21, 22. So I thought, you know, I don’t, I wouldn’t want to move at 30 or 30, 1 32. It’s a little bit harder. Um, and so I did move again. I moved to Cincinnati and at that time I moved back to the soloist.  

It was that exactly where you were before you were at, for Oklahoma city.  

It was right before.  

Okay. I didn’t mean to cut to the chase, but that’s not even the chase, cause that’s not where you are now. I, if we had, like, if we had little dots on a map of places, companies, you have, you have graced, um, we’d have, the country would look like the world looked like a little Christmas. Okay. So Ohio,  

Ohio, and then before Oklahoma state ballet, I went to Milwaukee ballet. Yes. I mean, it’s  

Kind of one.  

And from milwaukee, I, I audition to the Oklahoma city ballet and I got in as a principal dancer. I was actually a principal dancer with Milwaukee ballet as well. And, and then I auditioned to Oklahoma city ballet, I think with the works that I did with the Oklahoma city ballet as well. I needed to experience, I would say more of a freedom, right. Because I was the starter of so many things with your collateral, Oklahoma city ballet, being a company, um, that had its own rebirth, right. It’s a small company, a company that’s up and coming. So, uh, the structure of that company was still, um, in its building process, right. There were still building up. Uh, and I was a part of that building process during those four years. And I guess I just wanted to become just a dancer right.  

Hmm. Not so, so you found roots, you found a sense of community and then you thought maybe I will branch off. If I were to stick with the analogy, actually that would be not, not so helpful to the metaphor. Um, you, you felt in finding, oh, this is how I operate as a part of a bigger picture where you are wondering, I wonder how I operate as, as one piece. Absolutely. What does the individual, the dancer, you know, look and you went to, and there was, was, that was the opportunity presented before that thought happened, where had the thought happened and then the opportunity came and you said that  

If that happened, and then the opportunity presented itself, it was almost like it manifested with the energy that it put towards it. And the faith that I put towards, uh, coming to a company that it’s actually challenging to get in, I have applied before, um, it’s a top five company in the country. I thought about the visibility off a dancer and also Pacific Northwest Ballet offered a lot of, um, uh, experience with different choreographers from all over the world. And that’s something that I wanted to do

It’s really heartening to hear how possible it is to invest long-term and still have more distance to go. Like, it’s, you won’t run out of loving dance just because you’re leaving a city that the place you are doesn’t dictate the dancer that you are. Um, but there was, there will certainly be an, there will certainly be different opportunities in different places. I mean, location, location, location, that’s what that’s when the real estate agent, um, that, that makes a lot of sense, right? So you, you come from a very culturally rich place and you traveled to very many different culturally rich places and wow. What a wealth of experiences has given you and you, it, what I’m hearing is that perhaps even more than dancing, it’s a mission of yours to be giving back or sharing and creating more opportunities for others to do the same. So maybe that’s a, a good segway. Let’s talk about giving, let’s talk about doorways. Um, in a, in 2021, you won the art and culture and music award by TAF, the Taft foundation for your contributions in representation and activism. And I’m pretty sure this will be a very long answer, so let’s get into it. Uh, I am so excited to hear this answer, but what I would love to know is how, and you can get as granular or broad about this as you want. How are you being a part of making ballet more diverse, more rich, more cultured, more inclusive?  

Well, I, I think that journey started with the Oklahoma city ballet as well. Um, I’ve been, I am a black man right in ballet. And there was a time that I realized how fortunate and blessed I am for having a very fruitful career, uh, for going from company to company and perhaps being the first of everything and, uh, experiencing the lack of celebration of my culture and other cultures as well. I was the first black principal dancer in the 50 years of the company’s history and, you know, getting to 30, I realized, well, who’s next? Uh, we cultivating talents. Uh, we seen people of different background, uh, BIPOC, uh, people, artists, uh, we seeing them for their talent and for, uh, who they are and giving them the opportunity to be on stage, um, and to be seen, or, or to be, and to become, to exist within these spaces. They are predominantly white. And I guess I, once again, it was by opening the doors and paving the way for more people, because the work that that have been doing it’s for the current generation and the next generation as well, and how, and, and during that process, you know, there was a lot of pain, um, through it because, you know, we start talking about it. There’s a lot of confusion, a lot of resistance, and it takes a while for it to settle down and for us to start the work. So it took me a little bit, it was very challenging. And at some point I took my pain and, and, and, and, and this pain, or this process is process that comes from me from years, right? During school, through all the companies that I’ve been with until this moment with the Oklahoma city ballet. And I took my pain and it turned it into purpose. And my purpose was to bring diversity, equity and inclusion to ballet companies. And how do we do that? I often say is base that I, that the protests that we started having of the United States last year with the death of George Floyd, um, Brianna Taylor, and, and more, um, they started, they sparked more conversation about injustice throughout the country. And this conversation started everywhere. And dancers started protesting as to why we don’t have the visibility. Um, and so companies started listening to it, which was very important. It was a mark and the, by the world, like, this is, it’s not the first time that we do these conversations, but it’s the first time that it’s being noticed. Uh, it’s the first time that it’s been exposed, uh, to the audience,  

Uh, general, public’s looking at it, hearing it, seeing it.  

Yes, absolutely. Which obligates the company to do something about it to really, okay. Let’s sit down and, and talk about it. Yes. Right.  

It obligated though. Like how, how, how, how does diversity become more than a box to check? What is the incentive other than optics for companies to be inclusive? I mean, I think I know the answer, which is you have a rich and diverse lived experience in your company. The audience gets a richer, more diverse experience in the seats. I think that it seems plain as day to me, but I don’t think, you know, my experience as an artist and as an audience is the same as the experience of, you know, the people behind the desk or the people on the boards who are making those decisions. And it’s hard. I feel selfish to ask for, like, I want you to be more diverse and I want it to come from a good hearted place. And they want you to know why it’s important. That isn’t just like, you know, the optics. I, you know, I wish I had a different word to use, but it feels like I’m asking a lot in my, in my desires for that. Maybe it’s it’s, I, it’s certainly not important what I want, but have you noticed it becoming a box to check? Have you noticed meaningful shifts in the systems that have for so long kept people of color from being center in the ballet world?  

I think that companies have companies and artistic directors have made the effort to hire, um, black indigenous people of color, uh, into there are companies, but when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion, what I talk to these leaders about is that they all go hand in hand. I think that we have checked the box with diversity in the country, uh, with right.  

But do people feel included will feel like they belong there?  

Absolutely. That’s the question? Uh, because we are diverse, look, we have black people, we have blacks we have people of color. We have indigenous, or we have, uh, uh, Asians and more, uh, but are they being included within the system and how do we create this inclusion? How do we open up in order to, uh, include them? How do we, uh, have equity within this ballet companies? Right. Because they do go hand in hand first, obviously you have diversity. That’s how you hire, um, um, multiple cultures, multiple people, different cultures. And, and then you create the accessibility, right? When it comes through to a ballet company, you create the accessibility through casting, which is first, uh, van rehearsal, studio time on stage time, and then followed by performance. Now it’s only inclusive once you’re a part of that system and that order of casting studio time rehearsal on stage, time and performance.  

And that’s also, when we talk about, uh, representation and visibility, how do we create representation within a ballet company? And as a specific community, it’s having them go through the process of casting studio time, stage, time, and then performance. And that’s how the public can really, uh, identify themselves within that one person, uh, on stage. And then through visibility. How do we do that? Again, we go through the same process, but are these dancers being, um, marketed by a social media where we market most of our programs? Are they in the programs? Are they, um, are they performing a specific role? 

Um, I think position of leadership, uh, within, uh, a ballet production, uh, meaning are they performing a principal role or soloists role? Um, social media, photos, videos, images, uh, emails, and, and that’s how you create the representation and visibility. And then you bring it back to the system, um, actually through the system. And that’s how we’re able to create this, the idea of celebration of cultures, um, through the space that we are in. So, and, and, and the issue that we have we’ve faced sometimes it’s that, yes, we are hired, but where are we? We are not performing. And we have these examples almost every year. And companies now have made once again, that is proof and evidence that companies have opened subcommittees of, uh, diversity, equity and inclusion subcommittees to have more of a broad conversation, right? Yeah. Um, training and that’s one of the Pacific Northwest ballet is doing, we doing training as well, um, to identify these microaggressions that happened within the studio that they are not aware of. So there’s a lot of awareness that we are bringing, um, through education, right? Educating our audience, educating our leaders, educating, uh, the board of governors of alphabet ballet company, uh, to say, look, we have a community that we want to represent. We need to represent because we have dancers from those communities. And if you’re not on stage, then it’s just, we’re just back to the idea of diversity.  

No, I did not intend for that be an exasperated side, but I cannot help, but feel there is so much to be done. Um, after so many years of the championed social identity in the ballet industry was white, um, is white for so long. Um, um, I’m sure we have a long way to go to total equity, equality, and inclusion. Um, what do you see as being the biggest challenges set ahead, and how can the people listening who hold privilege in those spaces help?  

I believe it’s, it’s a matter of accountability, willingness and commitment. And there’s a lot of fear. Um, that goes on in the, in the world of ballet, even with artistic leadership, a lot of fear and pressure, but I truly believe that, uh, valet has been celebrating one culture for so long that they are afraid of going a different route. You know, you see that assistant system is not as inclusive because, you know, we don’t have, uh, many black artistic directors or artistic directors of different cultures and backgrounds as oh, had had experience, uh, other cultures as well. And so it’s challenging for them. I believe it’s challenging for them to just make that change because it goes against their reality and what they have been accustomed to.  

But isn’t that what isn’t that what creativity is, isn’t that your role as a creative director is to imagine something that doesn’t exist yet, or to imagine a way that is a way that isn’t the way it’s always been.  

Absolutely. But then you, you see the percentage of, uh, minorities, BIPOC artists within a ballet company, and it’s considerably, uh, smaller, small. When you come to 45 dancers in a ballet company, you only have four black dancers and you only have five Latin X dancers. And then you have about that say, uh, what does that, 30 some 30 plus light dancers, uh, by the time you make a decision to put a ballet on stage a production on stage, majority of roles will go for those white dancers. Uh, and so there’s not much, and again, we are becoming a diversity company, but the question is, are we included? We think that one system, right, right. And there is space like that is space for rehearsal on stage time, but we lack commitment and we lack willingness and accountability. And we do have to educate people. The, the, the people who come to stage these ballets, they have to be educated on the culture that we are trying to establish. And unfortunately, we fail to do that because majority of choreographers that comes to big companies, they are also Caucasians and whites. And so whenever they choose select a dancer, they will select the dancers that they will identify themselves with. And that will be another white dancer. And what I’m saying is that’s the priority. Sometimes it’s seeing one black dancer on stage and the company, the leadership sometimes celebrate the diversity through one person on the stage, right. Which sometimes can turn into tokenism.  

That’s the person on the flyer. And then you go see the show. And they’re not even in the, in the work that you’re saying that night, the one person before,  

And they are not even the works that was on the flyer. Yeah. And so it’s, those are the challenges that we have, you know, that we have to really educate and continue to educate these leaders in order for us to influence change. And one of the things that I saw with the Oklahoma city ballet that was so happy about it is we started the work. Uh, I believe it was in July. And when August came, we were doing the work immediately, immediately. And  

Is that not? What is the usual timeline of a lifetime of, uh, of a work?  

And here’s a line that I, that I always hear as a black dancer, you have to wait, change, takes time. And I remember saying this to an executive director, I said, change does not take time. Change takes action. Time is now, time is a constant time is now. And so there’s always this, oh, it was, you know, I didn’t perform on program. It’s just this program. Don’t worry. You’re going to perform again. And I’ve been through this experience where then I signed the contract and all those promises that you’ve had from a director, oh, you’re going to perform X, Y, Z was assigned the contract. You don’t perform those, those roles. You are not given that opportunity, uh, to, uh, develop your artistry or your, your skills. And it’s almost like it’s a trap once they signed that contract. And what I’ve talked to artistic directors, I said, I say that, yes, it’s going to be challenging to also conquer, uh, other cultures, uh, trust. Why is that the ass? They might think that it’s still organism because everything that we do, these new actions towards diversity inclusion and equity, we must take action with consistency in order for us to connect and engage with other cultures rather than white,  

And to make long lasting change. It must must be happening consistently, not just on one contract for one dancer on one company in one city, we’re talking about collective shift consistency all over.  

Yeah, absolutely not to mention that, uh, black dancers and dancers of different cultures, uh, they have to work 10 times more, right. And this work is not always a physical work. It’s equity, it’s sweat equity, mental equity, um, that go goes into these, these works that we do. Um, and so that needs to be a sensitivity awareness towards that as well. And because I think the conversation is going okay, how does a dance, how can we make you feel comfortable? And I answers will always be well by performing, by being on stage. You know, the life of a dancer is by performing. And I understand that sometimes you won’t perform a certain role. Sometimes you won’t perform a certain piece, but to exclude you from, uh, a system that organically excludes you is also not helpful. So, uh, yeah, we have a lot of work to do and, and I’m staying hopeful.  

Um, I’m, I’m inspired by your hopefulness and the path that you’re laying and the actions that you’re taking. Um, yeah. Thank you so much for being really transparent about what it, what it really means to be a person of color in the ballet industry. Um, I’m, I’m sure it is far more complicated and nuanced than I can ever imagine, and you navigate it so gracefully and explain it with compassion and understanding and patience. And that’s, uh, I can’t think of a better example to set. So thank you so much for that. Thank you for being here and talking to me today.  

Thank you for the opportunity. Uh, I think you know how you are a part of it. I know you’re a part of this journey. Okay.  

 Oh my goodness. He has signed me up. Tell me where I can. I can spend my privilege if I, if I hold any in the ballet world would probably  

Doing it already.

Know, it’s, I love talking about dance and I agree with you. I’m very much in alignment that I love dancers. I love people. And it is, has always been a focus of mine to serve the people who do the thing that I love to be doing, which is dance. Um, and I, I, I think that a lot of our training naturally, obviously is physical. And I wish that there were more of a, a mental component because a lot of the things that dancers and especially people of color come up against in, you know, our professional industry, um, are things that we were not prepared for in a dance class, certainly not standing at a ballet bar. So I’m happy to offer this space, the podcast as a resource to have conversations like these, and be an example of how to have conversations like these, and also, um, hopefully empower people to maybe, you know, in, in circumstances like mine, I’ll give a very specific example.  Um, after the summer of 2020, I stopped teaching hip hop, very easy decision for me that hit me like a ton of bricks. And it just was so simple and so clear that I could name more than fingers and toes on my body. People of color who live, eat, drink, love, hip hop culture. It’s true. I love to be dancing. I love funk. It’s true that my timing and placement in this world gave me exposure to some great training and I love sharing what I’ve learned, but are there people who can do this better than me? Absolutely. And I feel great passing that opportunity on to them. I feel very good about that. I don’t feel scared of that, but I know that I’m not, um, I know that I’m not alone, but I also know that that that’s not probably the majority rule in terms of like, how, how does it feel for white people to be asking to pass, work on to people of color? I’m imagining that to some people, it does not feel empowering. It feels threatening. And I think that I can see where the problem lies there. Um, and I don’t know yet the solution to that, but I think it starts up, up here and in here, I’m tapping my tapping my head and my heart.  It’s what humans get. Right. We have that. Yeah. We have awareness. We have the ability to think about the future. We have the ability to watch ourselves think and feel in the present. And I’m just hoping that we, as a greater community can elevate above and outside of our individual selves. And think about the big picture here.  

Yes. Well, thank you. That was, that was beautiful. And I, you know, I think the word is awareness and we can share of common knowledge and we could really, you know, just have that, uh, that trade, that experience. And I think the first thing that connects that connects us is it’s the heart, right? It’s the sow of an artist. Whether if it’s hip hop ballet, modern Samba, oh no. It’s, uh, you know, and whether you’re black, white, um, Latin X native, uh, do you understand? And it’s beautiful that, that thank you for that, that you’re aware it’s, it’s a system and it, that’s what I was even talking to. A friend of mine have said, uh, he’s a white male. And I said to him, I am not fighting you. I am fighting the system. And in that way, we broke so many walls between us, you know, and wait for it to not be personal. Right. It’s not personal. And, and then we were able to see that we truly appreciate each other for who we are and that’s the work. And that’s, it’s just, as you say, it’s fascinating. Ah, 

It is fascinating every step of the way, every turn, every new contract negotiation, every new first black soloist on every company they’re here, but I’m fascinated. I’m on the edge of my seat, but I also, I cannot help, but feel a little bit impatient. And you mentioned before, and it kind of stuck with me being told, you have to wait or change, you know, this change isn’t going to happen overnight. I have noticed in myself, and I know him, I’m a very small piece, but some changes can happen overnight. Yes, absolutely. I made the decision, you know, my decision about the type of work I will take on and the type of work I will pass along. I made that decision literally overnight and it felt awesome. So I would encourage, perhaps anybody who’s listening to be thinking about the changes you can make really fast right now that might have really long and rippling effects. And then where are the places where we can be, or where, where are the places we can bend and be more flexible so that we can have more endurance? Um, because yeah, it really is. It’s about the long game, huh?  

Absolutely. And I second you on that. And, and if I may add, um, also I really would love people to acknowledge that and encourage people to acknowledge that change starts with you. You know, um, it starts, it’s a small thing, right? Within your own environment, within your space. It, you know, when I wanted, uh, there was a time where I wanted to use my voice and it was so afraid, so afraid. And when I did use it, I had no idea that I had that power within me, that energy to influence change, and actually to see that there were people with me behind me, I saying behind me, was the generation that is up and coming really waiting for that moment. And instead of fearing, once I did that, once I looked around, I found so much love, so much support from every community, from every culture. So we have that power, we have that within us. And, and I understand it’s now that work takes time, you know? And, but when you do it, take your time when you do it, it would be at the right time for you to make a change within your own environment.  

Thank you so much for adding that. Yeah. I think that’s a fabulous place to wrap it up. You all have a lot to go and think about, um, Jonathan, thank you so much for being here with me today. I look forward to talking to you again.  

Thank you, Dana. It’s been an honor. Look forward to talking to you again. Thank you.  

All right. Y’all I know I already did my sign off at the beginning before this conversation happened, but I feel compelled to like wrap it up one more time. Jonathan is hopeful for change in the systems in place, um, that are the systems that determine who winds up on top in center stage, if you will, of the ballet world. And he’s all for making changes to the big picture, to those systems and starting with the self. So if you and I had any homework today, it might be simply to ask yourself what changes you can make and how those changes will affect the big systems that drive and move our world. I hope you have fun chewing on that. Again. I would love to hear what you think of this episode. Please feel free to contact me with any and all feedback I’m at @DanaDaners on Instagram.  And of course the podcast is words that move me podcast thrilled about our hundredth episode contest. Get in there and get paid and get real funky on your way. I’ll talk to you guys soon. Bye 
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