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
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Ep #59: Deeper Roots with Moncell Durden : https://www.thedanawilson.com/podcast/ep-59
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Bring your wins to W T M M email@example.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
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.