29 Dec Ep. #0.5 An Introduction with Nick Drago
Hi, I’m Dana, and this is my first ever podcast episode! Get to know me and listen in as I get to know Nick Drago!
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers like you get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, master mover, Dana Wilson, and if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh, and is looking to rewrite the starving artists story, then sit tight. But don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place.
Dana: Well, hello there and thank you for pushing play on episode 0.5 of words that move me. 0.5 by the way, because this is somewhat of a preview to the podcast, an introduction to me and what exactly it is that you are getting into. First, I’m Dana and I love, love, love dance. I am a dancer, dancer first. Well, human first, also dancer, also choreographer, also movement coach. Also many, many things. In many, many places. Right now I’m based in Los Angeles, but I move around a lot. I spent half of this year working on a few films in New York. Before that. Let me see, *murmer*, that, yeah, three world tours also teach for a convention slash competition that travels around the U S called NYCDA. We visited about 24 cities every season. You can also find me in the heart of the redwoods or the deserts of Joshua tree or at the very bottom of your local swimming pool with the seaweed sisters.
Shameless plug. Thank you, and also you’re welcome. Basically, I make dance in some capacity every single day and I have successfully wrangled this passion into my profession and I have been very fortunate at crossing paths with some of the best along the way. I’ve come to find that we self-employed artist types, especially those of us working in the entertainment industry, we get to have a really unique life. Yes, it is full of fun and occasionally fame and occasionally fortune if those are the sort of things you’re looking for, but whether you’re looking for it or not, you undoubtedly will encounter some rejection, a lot of uncertainty, failure, maybe even some good old fashioned public humiliation, image and identity issues. The list truly goes on and on and on. This podcast will be the place where I tap into my 15 years of industry experience and talk to some of the best in the biz who have been there and gone through of that stuff that I just said so that you don’t have to or at very least so that you don’t have to do it alone.
I like to think of this podcast as your dance partner, the one person at the party that you cannot say no to, even though you were really uncomfortable shoes. This is the dance partner that will glide up to you, present their hand with a smile and lead you onto the dance floor where everybody else splits like the red sea and then magically disappears while you have the best dance of your life. Yes, I am a person that loves dance and I love moving people. I hope this podcast moves you. I hope it moves your index finger right over the subscribe button and drops it there, gently and with style.
Now that you know a little bit more about me, I want to introduce you to someone special. I invited my friend and Nick Drago over to do a little test interview. I’m still getting used to the equipment and software and kind of trying out all the things. Now this is a guy that you might not know by name if you’re not a dancer, but if you own a TV or have seen a movie in the last 15 years, I guarantee you’ve seen his face. Nick was critical in helping me get my podcast up and on its feet, and I have a feeling that if he and I were stranded on a desert Island, made entirely of gummy bears, we would run out of gummy bears before we ran out of stuff to talk about. I hope you enjoy.
Nick: Hi Dana
So we’ve gotten all of our good to see you giggles out of the way.
Uh, so you are the first person that I emailed when I decided to do a podcast because your podcast was the first that I ever appeared on. Appeared on? Do you say that? I was a guest on your podcast? It was my first experience with a podcast. And this was kind of, this was some, some years ago. So I would love for you to talk about infinite dance cast, how it started, where it landed and what were the, um, unexpected kernels of wisdom that you gained from doing that?
Well, first of all, I want to say I was really excited when I saw your email, cause I don’t know, I’m sure your listeners know, like when Dana Wilson like hits you up, it’s gotta. Like I was like, Whoa, Dana Wilson hit me up. Like,
Or she got hacked?
It said like, Drago!! And I was like, man, so, okay. So infinite dance cast, myself, Desiree Robbins, we teach together years ago. And um, she was next to this dude on an airplane. His name’s Dave Lagana and he is a former writer for the WWE, the world wrestling..
Heard of it.
And now he’s, he’s uh, he still writes for wrestling in a different company and um, and he’s really awesome. He’s like, Hey, you guys want to do podcasts? We’re like, cool, we’ll to guitar center. I’ll buy a microphone, plug it into my garage band. You know, we, we did go, we had a lot of people. We had you on of course we had a lot of uh, folks on and I, I think looking back, we had a great time. We had fun, got to, you know, I learned how to talk and vamp a little bit and things like that. It allowed me to do things and perform in a way that I can’t do when I’m dancing. You know, in the verbal sense of things. I could get creative, I could write. I, that’s where I kind of found my love for writing. And..
which is more or less your like big shining thing, right now
I think so.
It’s your North star.
It’s my North star
You’re lighting up right now, You’re actually blushing.
It’s a star. I’m not sure if it’s North or South and the blood. It’s not blush. It’s anxiety.
It’s creative fear.
it’s, it is scary out here. It’s not easy. It’s very, very different.
Dana: Nick and I talked for a while about creative fears and the things that scare us, like auditions, injury, getting old, and I am glad to tell you I have a few thoughts and techniques that will help ward off every single one of those evils. Yes, I said it. I have the secret to eternal life sort of. And on that note, let’s jump back in with Nick and hear about a funeral.
Dana: As I was researching before you came here today, my research got hijacked because I found out you are in one of my favorite music videos and it’s My Chemical Romance Helena. So for those of you that do not know at all what I’m talking about, let’s see if you can, if it’ll come to you just by my description of it, there is full blown jazz production number happening at this beautiful girl’s funeral. And of course you’re like, as you’re watching it, you’re like, Oh, of course. Of course. There’s jazz dance here, and as you’re watching, you’re like, of course. That beautiful girl is Tracy Phillips. Did Tracy choreograph it?
It was Michael Rooney.
Of course it was. Okay. A-plus stairs choreography, A-plus, Busby Berkeley overhead thrash jazz on the floor choreography. Also the lead singer, Gerard Way. Whoa. Okay. That guy understands movement. He was possessed in the best possible way. Did you know that on YouTube there is a 20 some minute video of outtakes?
Oh, okay. I mean, should you go or should I go? Cause I have thoughts about that outtakes videos.
Yeah I mean, go.
Okay. One thing that they show is something that happens on every set and you’re, you’re going to know exactly what I’m talking about. There’s a moment when a director decides that they want all of the dancers to do something. Except for this was never discussed, therefore it was never choreographed. And in some way to somebody who doesn’t know dance, they’re like, well just everybody do that. So there’s a moment that they show in this, um, in this deleted bits video where I can just hear the director’s like, okay, so Gerard, you’re going to be on your knees in front of the casket and all the dancers in front of the coffin and everybody’s just devouring you. You’re giving energy to him, but you’re also giving energy to her. Yeah.
Oh yeah. Okay. So yeah, I remember this. That’s funny. I had forgotten totally about this. Yeah,
This is the best thing about that moment is that everybody’s game. We’re all like, okay, yeah, we want this to look great. So the choreographer is like, okay, let’s do, let’s just do like breathe and snap and breathe and snap and breathe in snap and around the head, throw. Throw to her and throw to her, then melt, six, do it again. And then you just do that on loop. Right? But then music changes, the rhythm of breathe in snap and breathe and snap is no longer there. So you’re all looking at each other like, do we keep going? Nobody’s yelled cut yet. So there’s like, some people are stopping.
I feel like Michael Rooney might’ve been in video village, which we couldn’t see him, so he couldn’t like help us. But I remember this now that we’re talking about, it’s so strange that this was one of my, one of my first jobs after I had like actually moved to LA, so I was probably wide-eyed and just trying to keep,
I do know what year this was by the way. This wasn’t, this was 2009.
Oh. Oh nevermind. I moved in 2003. *laughter*
Very early, early first.
First one of the first jobs. I didn’t work for six years. No. Uh, I guess I hadn’t been out here for quite some time. Well, maybe 2009 really?!
Well that’s the, that’s the date of the official music video.
Wow. I thought it was a lot earlier. Um, I do remember Blake McGrath was in it.
Oh, I was going to ask, who’s the one making a lot of open mouth faces.
I feel like he brought his dog to rehearsal and I remember thinking, I don’t think you’re supposed to do that. But it was cool because I guess him and Rooney were homies and I was like, wow, I would have definitely got in trouble if I’d done that. But, um, so he was in it. Jersey was in it. She was my partner.
I was going to ask, who was your dance partner? Cause I watched it and it was jealous.
Yeah. Jersey was my partner. It was good cause we’re kinda the same age. So we were kind of like both trying to figure it out. I remember Gerard saying, you know, he was like, Hey, you guys are awesome. Thank you very much for, you know, he thanked us. There’s only been a handful of times in our lives or, you know, where we’ve been thanked like that. Uh, but you know, when they, when they say that it makes you just want to dance harder for him. Uh, but he, you know, I said, man, you know, you did a really great job. And he’s like, Oh dude, I’m a closet musical theater freak. I love this stuff. The dude’s amazing. Um, My Chemical Romance actually asked us to go perform with them in, uh, Orange County on the warp tour. And he was in, Gerard was like, everybody light up your cell phones back when cell phones were new. Right.
Back when not everybody had one.
Like a flip-phone They’re like everybody light up your cell phones for our dancers, you know, give him some love and support and you know, so it was just kinda like one of those where like man, we will always support you, you know and cool. You know was something like that happens you want to tell everyone? Yes. Yeah.
What Nick and I stumbled upon here is a topic that is near and dear to my heart supporting talent and the spotlight. It’s not every day that a dancer works for a recording artist that is willing to share the spotlight and I’m not necessarily saying that they ought to, if everyone on stage had a spotlight on them, the audience might go blind. Metaphorically speaking. Of course. What I have learned over time and over hundreds and hundreds of shows on hundreds and hundreds of stages is that you don’t need to be the star in order to feel like one or to perform like one in future podcasts. I’m going to talk specifically and in depth about some of my favorite performance techniques, but for now let’s talk consistency and find out Nick Drago’s middle name.
Dana: When I, when I first emailed you, I’m like, I’m doing a podcast. I have some questions. Can you tell me, you know, what’d you learn? What are the things, what are the dos? What are the don’ts? Um, which by the way, historically I’m not a big fan of do’s and don’ts. Anything that comes at you as clear cut as that just, begging to be challenged. Anybody that says never shake the director’s hand. When you go to a casting, I always show you two more people that are like, Oh absolutely. Walk up to the guy, introduce yourself. You want to be remembered. So the dos and the donts I, I shy away from in general. But you did give me a piece of advice that I thought was very important and, and appropriate, not just for podcast people but just in life in general. So you said and I quote, if I could give you one piece of advice, I’d say consistency is key. Making sure you come out with an episode every week, two weeks, month slash slash. Slash. So even if it’s just one a year. But no, you say whatever you decide to do, just keep it consistent and anything that’s such important advice. And I want to circle back to the my chemical romance behind the scenes video in the moment that I explained when people are kind of dropping like flies and people don’t know if we keep going. Do we keep going? Guess who kept going?
Jersey? Just kidding.
You and Blake. Actually I think Blake might’ve stopped, I only watched it once. I watched the whole 20 minute thing. It’s really, it’s a fascinating watch.
So I kept going?
Well thank you.
You Did. And you’ve kept going. Like as a friend, I’ve known you for a very long time and I wouldn’t say that we’re very… I don’t know your middle name for examp-
Oh Dean *laughter* But now I know you
Whats your middle name?
Marie. And there you go. Now everybody knows.
That’s cool. I appreciate that Dana. Thank you.
And I thank you, thank you for joining me and for being my, my guests in this new adventure.
You’re a very, I am a big, I’m a big Dana Wilson fan. Big, big, big Dana Marie Wilson fan. Um, and you know, I, I just have this inkling that you’re going to do really well with this thing and it’s gonna it’s going to benefit a lot of people, not in the sense of just being dancers but in people and um,
I didn’t pay him to say this. This is totally unscripted.
Totally unscripted. And I mean, look, when you see Dana Wilson on set, you’re doing something right. And so I, I am overjoyed to be here. Thank you. And you’re great dancer. I’m a really big fan and the seaweed sisters, are y’all still doing that rock and roll?
We are seaweed-ing all over the world.
I just want to say that it’s so cool because those characters alone represent a freedom that many of us seek and that many of us have inside of us that are afraid to let it out.
You know, that’s our, our mission.
Well, you’re doing a dang good job and um, I don’t know. There’s something about being vulnerable like that in a, in a way that everyone wants to act. You know what I’m saying? Like finding that that soul and feeding it and allowing that character to grow out of you is a wonderful gift. And it it’s just, it comes from dance, but it’s, it’s just being a creative person. I think we just got to start moving in that direction, realizing that like movement is something bigger than dance.
And on that note, ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for being here.
Well, there you have it. Your first episode of words that move me. What do you think? What do you think? Where you moved? Did you learn something? Did you giggle? I hope so. And if so, hit, subscribe and tune into episode one and beyond. Thank you so much for listening. Now get out there and keep it funky or Get out there and get down. That’s the worst. Get out there and get up. Nope. Um, wow. I am not prepared with the tagline. I’m going to need to find a tagline. Um, maybe I’ll just try out a different tagline on every single episode. I could take your suggestions, maybe, um, tagline, tagline, tagline. Wow. Wow. I cannot believe I’ve all people that I do not have a tagline. I’m sure I have a tagline, so I must have journaled 18 different taglines. Well, have a good one.