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
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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.

Quicklinks:

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

Transcript:

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?
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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.

Transcript:

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. #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
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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!

Quicklinks:

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

https://www.tiktok.com/@ardundundun?



WTMM Holiday Shopping! 

https://www.thedanawilson.com/shop

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:

Transcript:

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.  

Interesting.  

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. #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
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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! 

Quicklinks:

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

Transcript:

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,  

Absolutely.  

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?  

Yeah. 

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  

Eventually  

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.  

Oh,  

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. 

Ep. #96 A Slice of Professional Performer Pizza Pie with Jessica Castro

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #96 A Slice of Professional Performer Pizza Pie with Jessica Castro
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Today’s guest means BUSINESS, and she’s been in it for 26 years.  She got a late start (relative to most dancers) but it seems like there’s nothing she hasn’t done: films, tours, TV, TWO Super Bowl halftime shows, and her very own training program Lipstick Diaries. The great thing about Jessica is that it seems she is only getting started. This episode holds so many golden nuggets of business wisdom, tons of social media best practices and  guide rules. I think anyone who is interested in being a long-lasting career will benefit from this episode, but especially those starting out and picking up momentum. ENJOY!

Quick Links:
Jessica Castro on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iliajessicacastro/

Lipstick Diaries Website: http://www.lipstickdiariesnyc.com/

Transcript:

Ep. #95 Camera & Film Terminology for Dancers & Choreographers

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #95 Camera & Film Terminology for Dancers & Choreographers
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This episode is NOT an A-Z glossary of camera and film terminology.  It IS a deep dive into  why “film speak” is important for dancers and choreographers… and also why it is a total set up.  Yes, I’ll demystify a few of the basic terms and technicalities, but I also dish out some of my favorite resources for a deeper dive on jargon, and I zoom in on (sorry, couldn’t help it) a few simple cues you can take from the camera to better craft your performance on screen.

Quick Links:

Every Frame a Painting: https://www.youtube.com/c/everyframeapainting

Team DeakinsPodcast: https://teamdeakins.libsyn.com/

Protecting the frame Podcast: https://www.protectingtheframe.com/

100 ideas that changed film: https://www.laurenceking.com/product/100-ideas-that-changed-film-2/

30 second film photography:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25026033-30-second-photography

Transcript:

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: Well, hello, my friend. And welcome to Words that Move me. I’m Dana. And as always, I am stoked that you are here. This is going to be fun. As we’re speaking, I am monitoring my pitch using a, um, pitch monitoring app. My vocal recovery is slow, but sure. And I am. I’m working to use all the tools available to me to fully recover as quickly and fully as possible. So forgive me if I’m a little bit distracted, I’m fascinated watching this little device record my voice, move up and down. Okay, moving right along. I’m excited about this episode because the subject came up in a words that move me community conversation recently. Um, somebody asked for the best resources for film terminology. They had never worked with film before. Um, and by film, honestly, I, I actually mean video, um, should be more specific with that language since this is the camera and film terminology episode. Um, but I, I started writing a response to this person who asked for some tips, pointers, vocabulary, et cetera, started writing this massive reply of an email, all of the words, all of the definitions. And I had to stop myself. This is a person who has not worked with dance on film before, and I was completely intimidating them, I think with this metric boat load of jargon. So I deleted my massive body of text and instead gave this person my very best advice, which is to have a clear vision in mind and be able to explain it with words or with other images and video references, and then be ready and willing to learn as you go. I encourage you to the same attitude. Throughout this episode be ready and willing to learn as you go heads up. I am not going to read a film or photography glossary to you in this episode. So if that is what you are here for, you can 100% do that faster and have the bonus feature of pictures and video examples. Um, you can have all that quickly by doing that Google search yourself. Actually I think a podcast might not be the most natural place to teach camera terminology because those visual aids are so important. So towards the end of this episode, I’ll give some of my favorite resources. But what I really want to dig into today is why “film speak” in quotes is important and also why it is a trap. I will try to stay focused, see what I did there focus. Um, and I will try to hold off on the puns, but I will not hold off on the pans and tilts. Okay, I must stop. I will stop. 

Let’s do wins. Yay. Here at the top of the episode, um, my win today is that this evening I’m going to see LA’s very own body traffic. I have a few friends on the company, super shout out, Joe Davis, Tiare Keeno. So excited to see you perform. And of course the creative director, Tina Finkelman Berkett. Tina is a long time friend and Ooh, she’s gotta be coming on the podcast here soon in the future that just got real. Tina it’s official. I mean, it’s not official yet, but it will become all right. Anyways, I know that as Broadway is opening back up, theaters, opera houses shows in general are opening back up. Um, I am probably not the only one with a win like this right now. And I hope that if you don’t have a live show on the books on your calendar, maybe this month that you think about doing that, um, if you’re comfortable going out in the world right now or ever I’m saying that also to my future audience, trust me, I am feeling the home life. Oh, wow. I told you I would try to stay focused and look at what’s happened. Okay. Now it’s your turn. Tell me what’s going well in your world. What are you celebrating today? Hit me.  

Okay, great. Congratulations. I’m so thrilled for you. Glad that you’re winning. Keep winning. Now let’s dig into this. We’re going to start by talking about why it is important for a dancer and a choreographer to understand camera and film terminology. I’m just going to put on my obvious Oscar Grouch, obvious Oscar Pants, obvious. What are some other O names? Olivia or O’Ryan? Anyways, this first one might be quite obvious, but understanding what the director and the choreographer are saying is a plus. Speaking the same language so to speak helps you work well and quickly, it definitely speeds up the process when people can explain what they want in a few words, instead of in several phrases. It helps when people can ask for what they want, instead of have to teach what they want. So that’s an obvious one. It helps you work well, and it helps you work fast to understand what people around you are saying, boom. Now this next point might also be obvious, but I’m going to dig into things from a movement perspective for a couple minutes here. These are a few of the ways that a dancer can and probably should take cues from the camera to craft their performance. 

First let’s talk scale, performing for a closeup and performing for a wide shot are very different things. The smallest perceptible movement in a close-up is really small. Like a micro movement is, is it’s small, but you can see it versus the smallest perceptible movement in a wide shot is significantly bigger, big, like sometimes large. So knowing the framing of the shot is extremely helpful when crafting your performance in terms of scale, I will call upon the opening scene of La la land as an example. I am a woman in blue getting out of a rusty kind of reddish colored car towards the beginning and the expression I have on my face, which is of course, you know me, quite cheerful. Um, in that beginning moment, like in the first verse ish versus the expression on my face during the final chorus, when the camera has pulled away, way, way back and up like the face I was making and the scale at which I was moving in those final moments of that opening scene would look actual nuts, like crazy nuts in a closeup. If the camera had been close up on my face and body, in those moments, it would have been a horror film. It would have been a scary movie. So that’s scale. The importance of crafting your physical energy in relationship to the frame period. 

Now I want to talk about, um, a phrase that I made up it’s called oops tolerance to me, ‘Oops Tolerance’ is a performer’s ability to mess up and keep going without anyone else knowing. Note always, always, always, always, always keep going until you hear the word cut, no matter what the camera is doing or what you think the camera’s doing, no matter how bad you think you messed up, keep going. We’ll talk about that more in a second, relating to the camera or specifically the framing of the shot. My oops tolerance goes way up. In other words, I get way more relaxed, way more confident, less stress, less pressure on my physical dancing. When I know we’re shooting a close-up like head and shoulders or even a cowboy shot, which means from the knees up or a mid shot from the waist up. Um, I know that in those cases, if I mess up my foot work, it really doesn’t matter unless I show it on my face. The opposite can also be true. If we’re shooting a closeup on my hands, for example, it’s okay that my expression is super concentrated or that my lips are pursed in, in focus.  Focus again. Um, or that my lips are chapped for that matter. Awareness of the frame helps you focus your attention on the part of you that will be getting most of the attention. Again, this is kind of obvious stuff, but I really don’t think most dancers know what is in the frame when we start moving. And if for no other reason than your oops tolerance, it can absolutely be helpful to know that information. Before I move on, I really do want to underline keep going. You might think your flub has ruined the shot, but you’d be surprised how useful even a really bad take can be. Movie magic is real. I think we mentioned during the, um, in the Heights choreography team podcast episode, I think we talked about this. It was fully raining while we shot some of 96,000, which is the pool scene from In the Heights. Um, it was actually fully nighttime for some of those shots and truth be told I shutter when I hear the words, we’ll fix it in post because I have been the one trying to fix it in post and that ain’t fun. Um, but you really would be surprised to see and hear how much can be fixed after the fact. So always be rolling and always keep going until you hear the word cut. Okay. Sorry. That sort of turned into a special effects conversation. We’re back. 

Another camera related cue that can bring extra awareness to you. Um, your expression and your placement is a high frame rate. Now I am not as cinematographer or an optical expert of any kind, but I would consider anything 60 frames per second or higher to be a technically high frame rate. Um, frame rates by the way, since we’re talking basics today are usually measured in F P S or frames per second. And it means like what it sounds, the number of individual images or frames captured per second. In the edit, the individual images can be stretched or squished to cover any desired amount of time thanks to digital nonlinear editing. Um, so you might imagine that if you wanted to stretch or in other words, slow down one second of capture over, let’s say one minute of video, having more frames, more data, more information is more better. So a higher frame rate, more samples to stretch is more helpful. Okay. I hope you’re still with me here. It is for that reason, having more information, more data to spread out that shooting at a high frame rate is usually an indication that the director intends to slow the footage down. Alternatively, if you plan on speeding up footage or even playing it at normal speed, um, normal for a human’s eyeball is somewhere between 30 and 60 frames per second. That’s totally fine. Some experts actually maintain that It’s not really possible for the human eye to perceive more than 60 frames per second. So, uh, there’s that? Okay. Technically I hope you’re grasping the concept of frame rates and how more samples is more useful. If you plan to play back what you captured over a longer stretch of time than what you captured it in. That was confusing. Okay. Let me explain why this matters for a dancer. If you are shooting at a high frame rate that will be getting slowed down in the final, edit. A facial expression, a line, a transition that you made for a very, very small fraction of a second while cameras were rolling could last a very long time on screen. So it’s crucial that you be aware of facial expressions, body placement, and even performing transition moments versus considering transition moments what gets you between performance moments. That transition could last 30 seconds on camera? If you aren’t performing every single fraction of a second of it, the performance can fall flat in the final edit. I got some hands-on experience with this, myself playing with my husband’s, um, Sony RX 100, which is a little point and shoot kind of pocketable size camera, but it captures 1000 frames per second at full HD, which means 1920 by 1080 pixels. We’ll talk about aspect ratios in a second. You’re down, you’re down. Anyways It can only capture that much data for one second at a time. So in our little exploration, I tried to fit as much dance as possible into one second of movement that wound up, you know, that got stretched into 30 seconds of a movie. We made a 30 second movie out of one second of dance. And holy heck, I learned so much about my face and where I hold tension in my neck and my shoulders and my hands. Um, so if you have access to high frame rate cameras and you want to learn about yourself, I strongly recommend giving that some play. Um, and I recommend going easy on yourself as you review that footage, some hard truths buried in those frames. Okay. Those are a few examples of the movement cues that a dancer can take from camera. But I think that a lot of maybe even most dancers who want to learn camera terminology want to, because they aspire to choreograph and or direct. And yeah, if you plan on choreographing and obviously if you plan on directing, it’s very, very important that you be able to communicate what you want to see and understand what is wanted in the language of film.  I would like to embed a little caveat here. I think that choreographers and directors need to understand each other period, but what I see happening a lot is that because choreographers understand movement so well movement of all things, not just the dancers, but movement of the camera movement of the story. So on and so forth. I think it’s, it’s common that choreographers wind up directing the camera throughout their dance scenes and sometimes even beyond. And for that reason, yeah, it’s, it’s very advantageous for choreographers to understand and speak camera, but I actually don’t think choreographers should wind up directing their scenes unless it’s made clear that that’s what’s happening right from the jump. And unless they receive a director credit like Jerome Robbins in west side story, for example. Yeah. It’s a thing that happens a lot and I don’t feel great about it. I’m fully on board with empowering choreographers to take the ball and run with it on set. But if we are indeed directing the camera, if we are indeed directing the scene, then let us be directors. I would love to live in a world where directors understand dance as much as choreographers understand the camera. I think, kind of a funny thing to think about, actually that seems like a trap and speaking of traps, Ooh, that was a juicy segue. 

Now I want to talk about why and how learning camera and film terminology can be a trap because the first film was made in 1902 at a whopping 12 frames per second, for a little perspective, the camera that I just mentioned, the little point and shoot Sony RX 100 captures a thousand, the iPhone that is probably in your pocket captures 120 at full HD.  So all that to say a lot has happened since since then, since, uh, I think it’s called the Man on the Moon. I think that’s the name of the first film. I know it was 1902. Um, but yeah, a lot has happened since then technologies are evolving so quickly right now that it can feel incredibly intimidating and expensive to try to play catch up and stay caught up in that field. There are simply so many different words and terms probably as many as there are in the entire dance lexicon actually, now that I think about it, but add the complexity that some of them sound like they mean the same thing, but mean different things like depth of field and depth of focus. And some are literally the same word that have different meanings like frame, for example, which means the single individual picture on a film strip or the still section of the many images that make up a video, like in a frame rate, what we already talked about, but frame also refers to the borders and what’s visible within them. Then you’ve got aspect ratio, which is the images width to height ratio, which is usually given in numbers, pixels, but sometimes not. Um, depth of field and depth of focus, which is sometimes called lens to film ratio. So there you have it two totally different terms that explain the same thing that happens a lot. Um, lens to film ratio or lens to film tolerance, or depth of focus explains the distance between the lens itself and the sensor, the sensor’s sensitivity, which is called I-S-O or ISO, which is actually different from exposure, which is the amount of light that reaches the sensor. Some of you are still wondering what is a sensor and where is it sensor? We haven’t even gotten into the names for camera angles, the names for camera movements. Yeah, it’s a lot, I guess what I’m trying to say is the same way you and I have dedicated our time and focus to dance or choreography or whatever it is that you do. Photographers and cinematographers, camera operators have dedicated probably the same amount to what they do this. So although it is tempting to think that you can figure this out with a few YouTube videos or even by the end of the year, if you have some time on set and really ask a lot of good questions. Even then, it’s probably not going to happen. And that’s okay now I don’t mean to be discouraging or to be a Debbie downer. I am here to help you, but I’m also here to tell you that. Man, I made a micro movie every day for over 400 days and I am on set a lot and I still hear words that I’ve never heard of. Shorthand, code words for other words. Um, I’m still figuring this out as well. So go easy on yourself, take it slow and apply what you are learning. Get a camera other than your iPhone, probably, um, get a camera that you’re comfortable with actually using get a camera that you’re comfortable, potentially harming because sometimes use does that, but then go play. That’s how you learn. That’s how you learn. Now you’ve heard the tough stuff. You’ve heard the obvious stuff. Now I’m going to give you a few of my favorite resources when it comes to cinematography and photography and film terminology. Um, step one, marry an optical engineer. And if that doesn’t work out for you the next time that you reach for Instagram or Tik-tok open your camera app, instead, explore every single setting, tap every single number or icon or word on the screen and play with the settings, adjust settings, take pictures, take videos. Notice what changes. And if you don’t know what something means, take for example, what is that tiny F in the top right corner when I’m in portrait mode, that means f-stop Google it, read what it is, read what it means to use it, and then see how it works for the record iPhone’s camera app really works hard to hide a ton of the most fun and exciting settings to play with. So I really do recommend, um, doing this little exploration with a handheld camera, like an actual camera. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Um, in fact, a very wise man once said, the very best camera to use is the one that you have. So use that one or use the one you can afford and then use the one, you know, how to use that means there will be a learning curve. Next I recommend you watch every single episode of Tony Zao’s every frame of painting on YouTube. That is the name of the channel, every frame of painting. Um, there are a series of video essays about cinematography and film, um, less about the terms and the tools and more about their effect. So, so good. Also strongly recommend the Team Deakins podcast, which is Roger Deakins podcast. Roger Deakins, one of my favorite cinematographers ever. So good. Uh, also the podcast Protecting the Frame. That was a handout from my dear friend, DevinJamieson. Thank you for that. Devin. I’ve been loving listening to Protecting the Frame so good. Um, also buy and read 100 Ideas That changed film. That is a book by David Parkinson. Another, another good bang for the buck is 30 Second photography. That’s edited by Brian Dilger I think I’m saying that right. Those are both really comprehensive, yet small and sticky bites that lead to really big learning in an even bigger field of information. It really like the way they have curated and explain some pretty difficult like scientific concepts in a way that I, a dance type can understand it.  Um, yeah. Okay, great. I think, I think that is it until, of course I get DevinJamieson on the podcast to talk even more about the camera. 

Um, all right, let’s wrap it up then. Speaking Camera can be at least a very small part of what separates the pros from the rookies, but as a choreographer or a dancer, you do not have to know the difference between depth of field and depth of focus to have a deeply profound effect on your audience. So don’t let the terminology stop you or get you caught up. Honestly, sometimes I think it’s designed to be intimidating like taxes, maybe just to keep, to keep people out. Um, but stay in it. Keep asking questions, keep playing. And of course, keep it funky. That is it for me today. I will talk to you soon. See that right there that bye was too low, that was at 150 Hertz, trying to get 160 and above. Okay. Enough bye!

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 and review because your words move me too. Number two, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops and so much more. All right. That’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #94 The Key to All Creative Collaborations

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #94 The Key to All Creative Collaborations
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“Negotiation” shouldn’t be a scary word.  Advocating for yourself and your values is cool, AND it is part of the job! In this episode, I discuss the role of intimacy coordinators and how much they can teach us about establishing and communicating boundaries in our work (and in our lives).  We practice using the terms Yes, AND” and “No, BUT” to set clear parameters that will help to protect your mental and physical self as well as your time, money, and energy! So, if you are someone who struggles with setting boundaries, THIS ONE’S FOR YOU!

Quick Links:

Tits and Teeth Podcast Intamacy Episode: https://podcasts.apple.com/il/podcast/christina-pitts-jazzar-intimacy-coordination/id1417619719?i=1000526228784

Episode 15 with the Seaweed Sisters: https://www.thedanawilson.com/podcast/ep-15-the-seaweed-sisters-who-are-we-and-what-is-this

Transcript:

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: Good day. Good people. What’s up and welcome to words that move me. I’m Dana and I, as always am stoked about this episode. The subject for today’s episode came up from one of my beloved Words that Move me Community members. And I actually cannot believe I haven’t done an episode about this yet, so thrilled about it. Um, but before we dig in wins, would you wins at the top of every episode? And this week I am celebrating last week’s episode with the one and only Nina McNeely was officially our 100th episode that is including bonus episodes and our first episode, which was episode 0.5, which is funny, but also how many times can I say episode in the introduction to the episode? So many times it turns out. Um, so yes, I know last week’s episode was number 93, but, uh, yeah, I’m celebrating it as 100. That is my win. Um, because that’s how many episodes I recorded. So I celebrated by taking myself to my favorite vintage shop in the valley. It’s called Yes Baby, by the way, it’s quickly becoming my favorite vintage shop in all of Los Angeles. I spent $100 there. I got a jacket, a hoodie, a sweater, two t-shirts one of which I’m wearing right now. It’s gigantic, almost comes to knees. Oh, and an enamel pin. Pen, pen pin. I’m really still working on the voice you guys. And it turns out being a girl from the Midwest. I have some interesting speech patterns and inflections. An enamel pin for Smac. Smac Mcreanor. Or if you’re listening, I have a gift for you. Um, yeah, total jackpot. I love you Yes, baby. I love you listeners. I love you. My team, Malia Baker, Riley Higgins. Thank you for helping me reach that 100 mile marker. And for actual episode 100, which is still out there in the distance. Uh, numerically speaking, we are having a $100 cash prize giveaway episode. 100 will come out on November 24th. So this contest, this giveaway contest will happen for the whole week of that episode. Starting on November 22nd, ending on November 26th, we are going to have an Instagram contest, $100 cash prize giveaway. It’s exciting. Stay tuned here and also follow us at Words that Move me podcast on the gram for more details about that. All right. Woo-hoo for winning. I hope you win the contest by the way. And I do hope you’re winning, uh, in your life and in your career. Go ahead and, and take the floor. Take the mic. If you will, for a moment. Think about and tell me or someone that you’re with about what is going well in your world. Let’s hear it.  

*Cup Bubbles* That’s just me and my cup, bubbles working on my voice. Okay. Congratulations. I’m so glad you’re winning. And I want you to keep winning, keep celebrating all of the good things going well in your world. Now, speaking of things going well, I want you to use your imagination for a second. Imagine your hero. This could be a real person in your life. Someone that you know, someone you don’t know yet, or it could be a full-blown superhero action, figure, animated character, your call. Imagine your hero. And imagine that they have just handed you a gold token, like a coin, but I’m going to go with token. It’s heavy. It’s gold. It’s shiny. It’s perfectly new and glorious. It’s about the same size as your favorite slammer. For those of you who used to play pogs dammit. Now I have really dated myself. Anyway, your hero hands, you this slammer coin token thing, and they tell you that this token can be exchanged for success in any creative collaboration. Yes. This coin buys you a happy, healthy, fortunate, flourishing nourishing experience on any slash all creative projects. And you take this token coin slammer thing, and you’re like, thank you, whoa, whoa, dope. You sure you don’t need this? And they’re like, yeah, hang on to it. So you keep it and you take a close look on one side. There is a picture in your imagination. Just use your imagination, a vast boundless body of water. Maybe that’s California king size water bed. Maybe it’s an ocean. Maybe it’s a river, vast something almost endless as far as the eye can see. And on that same side of the coin are the words, “Yes, And” on the other side of the coin, there is an image of a lifesaver. No, not the candy. Okay, fine. Maybe the candy I did ask for your imagination after all. Um, but I was imagining, you know, the, the rings, the, you know, the, the inner tube type inflatable hoop, what is that thing even made of probably foam. I digress on the side of the coin that has the image of the life saver. There are the words. “No, but.” Yes. ‘No, but’ is the focus of our conversation today? If you are a person who struggles with setting boundaries, this one is for you, my friend. Way back in episode 15, the seaweed sisters, and I put a magnifying glass on the power of yes. And the seaweed sisters trademarked this philosophy that we 100% borrowed from improv comedy. Um, if we coined the technique, ‘yes, and’ then on the flip side of that coin would be ‘no, but.’ No, but is equally as powerful. And oddly, I really haven’t talked about it on the podcast yet. Honestly, that’s because it’s newer to me than “yes, and” so in this episode, I want to unpack how the “no, but” mentality can empower you, your physical and mental self, but also your time, your money and your sweet, sweet energy.  

So let’s dig in. Okay. “Yes, And” is powerful because it makes room for new ideas and growth. It fosters safety, freedom, collaboration, risk, and no, but is powerful because it sets boundaries. It protects you. It also fosters freedom and respect, but for your physical and mental self, that can mean big, big, really, really important stuff. One of the best examples of the “no, but” mentality in action came to me last summer when I was deep into listening to other people’s podcasts, I was listening to an interview with dancer, choreographer and intimacy coordinator, Christina Pittz Jazzar . She was on the tits and teeth podcast. So super shout out to them and big shout out to intimacy coordinators all over the world. I will 100% link to that episode, um, of tits and teeth. It’s a, it’s a really good lesson. That’ll be linked in the show notes.  If you haven’t heard of intimacy coordinators or aren’t entirely familiar with what they do by all means, listen to that episode, but we’ll give you a very brief explanation now, just for context, intimacy coordinators advocate for the actors. And they are the liaison between the director and their vision and the performers who will be portraying intimate moments, which don’t necessarily mean simulated sex scenes or nudity or romantic affection. They could also include any spectrum of physical contact with minors like mother/daughter, or father/daughter scene. Any, any minors, any physical contact exchanged, um, between minors, the intimacy coordinator basically communicates consent and make sure that everyone feels comfortable and safe well before. And also as the cameras roll in that episode, Christina talks about how her job usually starts by dissecting the script and any scenes that call for intimate exchanges between characters. She also communicates with the director to get a grasp for their vision, and then discusses that vision with the performers. That’s where “Yes, And,” and “No, but” come in very handy, no pun intended during these conversations, performers get to voice their concerns, questions, sensitivities, et cetera, and a negotiation may follow. For example, “are you comfortable simulating sex?”

“No, but I’m comfortable with kissing” or “no, but I’m comfortable with partial nudity” or “no, but I’m comfortable using a body double” or “yes, And I would like to add to the writer that my partner or representative be present for all rehearsals and the shooting of those scenes.”

Can you see how important these conversations are to have period and how helpful “yes, and” and “no, but” can be in having those conversations. It should be pointed out that dancers are often asked to physically engage in some sort of intimate or sexually charged connection. I’m thinking specifically of like 75% of the VMs from 2021, it was a very sexy year and sex sells. Should not be shocked that that is what shows up, um, in the recording industry. But, um, I do think it’s important to point out that whether that type of contact be in the form of partnering or a big ensemble group moment, A la: slave for you, that music video is still one of my all-time favorites. Um, we rarely have an intimacy coordinator there to advocate for us in those situations. And I think it’s a really interesting thing that it’s not discussed, um, people’s degree of comfort being involved in that sort of thing. Um, so anyways, I really hope that all dancers listening understand that you don’t need an intimacy coordinator on set to say yes and or no, but, um, you don’t need a writer or a contracted agreement to advocate for yourself. Um, I really do encourage actually that even as you’re listening, you start thinking about what you’re comfortable doing and what you’re not comfortable doing, how you might frame those parameters using “yes, and” and “no, but” um, in a rehearsal space. Also I think that sometimes those conversations are good to be had in private. You can see how the role of an intimacy coordinator is so important because I’m sure as you’re listening and imagining yourself in a large group environment, how having that conversation might be slightly uncomfortable. Yes, this is, this is why we love intimacy coordinators. Um, okay. Back up, back up, I think intimate scenes, aren’t the only times in which a dancer might use this type of language. Um, in other words, when, when we’re doing like sexually charged, it’s the best way I can think to put it right now, um, movement with other people. That’s, that’s not the only time we could use. “Yes and” / “No, but” to advocate for yourself, um, I’ll give you an example. One of my favorite least favorite questions that I get asked in auditions is can you do any tricks or can you flip well, um, never really been a, a trick type of performer and I can definitely not flip. I don’t like being upside down. I blame it on sinus pressure and also the fear of breaking my neck. Um, I truly, I think it’s too late for me to gain any acro skills. Uh, so my answer to that question is always a firm. “No, but I am super funky and I hear I’m a pleasure to work with” or “no, but I can do this big smile and two thumbs up.” Um, that’s a bad example, let’s imagine that you are someone who is skilled in the Acro department. You can flip, you might empower yourself by responding to that question. “Yes, And I have about 15 to 20 good takes of a tumbling pass before that might get a little bit risky in terms of energy” or “no, I can’t flip, but I can do an Ariel, a HeadSpin six pure pirouettes,” or fill in the blank with any move you’d be comfortable doing for eight hours.  This “yes and / no, but” approach is so much more informative than a simple yes or no. I think it’s not just informative. It’s empowering. It’s professional. Now those are both pretty clear examples of how yes and or no, but can be useful to protect your mental and physical self. Now I want to explain how “no, but” boundaries can protect your time, money and energy. Now I’ll, I’ll reach out out my dear friend from the Words that Move me community who brought this up in a, in a group coaching forum recently. They’re new to Los Angeles. They’re wildly talented. And of course, everyone is asking them to be a part of their projects. Some number of which are unpaid. They found themselves in a position where they felt over committed, underpaid, exhausted, and afraid of being forgotten under some pressure that if they say no, something bad might happen, this is the crux of loving what you do and doing what you love for a living. It’s also a huge part of being human. The bottom line here for this human is that they believed that they weren’t yet in a position to say, no, they believe they’re still in the early stages. We’re doing things for free is pretty much a given. So they did, they did things for free and in doing so, they donated their time, their talent and their energy. And yes, there probably were some non-monetary exchanges being made like exposure. My other favorite least favorite. Or good-looking material for the real, that’s a real thing or networking opportunities. So on. So on. So on, I agree. Those are all metaphorical money in the bank, but they don’t actually pay the bills like today. So something has to change for this person. And it’s not necessarily the number of jobs that they say yes to, or the number of favors that they do.   It’s the way they are thinking. And it’s the boundaries that they create and communicate for themselves. So let’s practice doing that, setting those boundaries, having those conversations in a little role-play, let’s say that someone asks you to help them out for free or do a gig at a quote homey rate unquote, which somehow means for less than what you should be getting. And that doesn’t make sense to me because I want my homies to make more money than they quote should or shouldn’t be getting. But anyways, someone asks you to do something for free or at a seriously discounted rate. You might say, no, I can’t commit to that amount of time, but I would love to drop in for an hour. If that’s an option, another option might be no, but if you need help or input styling, editing, story-boarding, I’m really interested in helping in those ways. Or also you don’t need to give a reason why you can just straight up say no, no, but I’m thrilled that you thought of me. And I hope we can kick ass making stuff together in the future. Boom, it’s so simple, right? Simple, not easy for people who are not used to saying no, this can be a challenge, but you know what else is challenging? Paying your bills and making no money and saying yes to all of the things and not protecting your time, your talent and your energy. Now, I don’t want to totally blow your mind here. No, but is definitely the soloist of this episode. But while we’re here, we might as well consider a few other options. Like ‘yes If’ or ‘yes, when’ that opens the floor for things like, uh, yes. If I meet my fixed expenses for the first or yes. If food travel gas and wardrobe are covered or yes. If I can be credited as co choreographer. Yes. When I finished my work on this other paid gig, there are so many details in between. Yes and no. We get to negotiate my friends.  And when you get clear with yourself about what you are willing and not willing to do, and when you advocate for yourself, you might be shocked to find out how much is actually in your power to change, to set as standard. You have that power to make that change. In fact, a power dynamic is exactly that a dynamic, if only one side had power, it would be a power solo. It’s not, it’s a power dynamic. It would be a power ISO. It would be a power isolation, but it’s a power dynamic. You are included in that dynamic as having power. Don’t give it away. You aren’t threatened. You are wanted, you have. Yes, you have. No, you have. Yes, And. Yes, If. Yes, when. and you have No, but. Don’t take that the wrong way. You have a great butt you have a beautiful butt even if, whether it is a Debbie cake or a wedding cake, you have a glorious perfect cake. Your cake is great. Good butts, everyone all around. No, but is powerful though. Don’t forget it.  All right. My friend, that’s it. That is the key to success. The token that I hope you keep in your pocket and use often. Yes and no, but, and all the terms in between, they are so helpful in collaborative processes, process, processes, process, you can and should advocate for yourself. And those terms can help. You can negotiate your own terms. In fact, it’s part of the job. Do you see all of the ways that you can be excited about people, be excited about together, be excited about opportunities and still set boundaries. You can be available and say, no. Advocating for yourself is sexy. It is professional. And if you’re dealing with another professional, be they sexy or not, they will likely be open to working with you. When you set those terms, they’ll likely be willing to set terms that make sense for you both. And I hope that you do that. And I hope that while you do that, you keep it funky. That’s it for me, my friend. 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 and review because your words move me too. Number two, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops and so much more. All right. That’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #93 Outside the Box with Nina McNeely

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #93 Outside the Box with Nina McNeely
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This episode’s guest is the reason I pursued a professional career in dance,but she isn’t only an inspiration and a hero in MY life, she is a creative leader in the entertainment industry at large.  Nina McNeely’s work is singular… it is dark, it is bright, and so is she.  I can’t wait for you to hear her thoughts about social media and the way it has changed BRAVERY in art.  We also explore the side effects of “fitting in” and being too precious with our work and each other.  We discuss the value of repetition and the impermanence of LIVE dance, and we go deep on what she thinks about thinking outside of the box.  You’ll laugh, you’ll learn, and on the other side of this episode, you’ll be ready to experiment and be bold with your work!  ENJOY!

Quicklinks:

Black Midi – John L: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GT0nSp8lUws

Caroline Busta’s article on Counterculture: https://www.documentjournal.com/author/caroline-busta/

Transcript:

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: My friend, Dana here. Welcome to words that moved me. I must admit it was a big talking weekend. You can probably hear it in my voice. I’m taking it easy today. I’m going to let our guest speak for herself. I am so beyond excited for this episode, but I am taking it easy on my voice. So let’s get right in to wins right now. This very moment. It is thunder storming in Los Angeles and I love it. This is a perfect win for today’s episode because today’s guest is both bright, like lightning and dark like a storm. She is simply so phenomenal. So celebrating my guest today, as well as this beautiful Los Angeles thunderstorm. What are you celebrating, what’s going well in your world? 

Nice. Congratulations. I am so glad that you’re winning. Now. There are 100 ways I could go about introducing today’s guest. I could get nostalgic. I could fan girl. I could scream with enthusiasm, but I can’t, several months post vocal cord surgery. I am encouraged not to scream. So I will say this. If I were Harry Potter, today’s guest would be my dark arts teacher. She’s someone I admire respect and has taught me so much over the years. I am thrilled for you to learn from her as well, and I cannot wait for you to find out how thoughtful in hysterical she is. So without any further ado, go ahead and enjoy the eighth wonder of the world as far as I’m concerned, the fabulous Nina McNeely. 

Dana: And we’re live, um, the dance duet, the virtual dance duet. That just happened was pretty epic. My heart rate is in fat burning zone. I’m sweating from both armpits and I am so excited to have you here. Nina McNeely. Welcome to the podcast.  

Nina: Thank you for having me.  

Dana: I’m so, so stoked about this. Um, okay. The first part, maybe the easiest part, maybe the hardest part kind of up to you. I’d love for you to start by introducing yourself. Um, simply let us know anything you would like us to know about you. I’m so curious to see how this goes.  

Nina: My given name is Nina McNeely, and I would describe myself as a troll and that’s about it.  

Dana: Uh, troll Nina McNeely, the troll, everyone. Um, I will only add to that, that you are a wildly talented troll. I have mentioned you on the podcast before as being the reason why I pursued dance. We sort of grew up together, shared a couple years at Michelle Latimer dance academy before making our way to Los Angeles. You a couple of years before me. And, um, I just so admired your career then, now, always. And so I’m really excited to get to talk about work with you today, work in life and things. Um, so I want to start actually by talking about, um, a moment that started to happen and then we put it in a parking lot. So I I’m thrilled by the way, to be like still getting to know you in our adult lives. Because in our teenage years we were teenagers. I came over recently. I was telling you about this movie, um, Mitchells versus Machines and the hero of this animated, like kids movie or family movie, I guess I would call it is a content creator. She’s a filmmaker and about to go to school in LA for film. And she’s explaining herself in her weird family and how they’re misunderstood. And she says, so I did what any other outsider would do and made weird art. And you were like, oh, weird. And it had this moment of like, don’t get me started on weird. So I want to start the podcast by getting you started on this concept of weird art. Like what adjectives would you rather use? Number one to describe your work and what would you say is out of the box, shall we say these days?  

Nina: Well, I think it’s interesting that we’ve been reduced to weird. When you look in the art world, we have, you know, in the fine art world, there’s surrealism, impressionist, Renaissance, all these descriptive words. And we’ve just been reduced to weird, which I don’t understand how that happened. I don’t know if it’s because we abandoned those labels before or something, but if I would describe myself as one of those fine art things, I would want to be a surrealist or I would want my choreography and artwork to be viewed that way, because I do find myself making things in this more kind of like fantasy dream state kind of place that I think to your regular Joe, they’re like, wow, that’s weird. And I guess with the outside the box thing, well, I mean, I just get asked that all the time, like, Ooh, this new pop star is looking for something really outside of the box.  

Oh yes. That’s code for weird. Okay. Yeah.  

Code for weird. And I’m always like, well, what’s outside of the box to me is not what they think is weird. You know what I mean? Like to me outside of the box is like something ancient and old or based in tradition, you know, because we’ve gotten so far from that recently, you know, our, I even was, you know, one of my last pieces was kind of based in religion a little bit, also something unpopular right now. So I guess, you know, it’s in the eye of the beholder, what outside of the box actually means. And I definitely, I definitely think people try to be weird, um, which is very kind of obvious at first glance or something. But maybe to me, the people that I’ve found there are just subversive and interesting. And like, I can’t wrap my head around at first, like takes me a minute are maybe people that are just extremely like intuitive and trust their instincts. Like when I think of people like that, I think of like Kitty McNamee like when we danced on Hysterica back in the day we used to ask her like, you know, what’s my, uh, what’s my motivation on this part? Or what, what does this part mean? Or, you know, what am I supposed to be thinking of? And she’d be like, I don’t know. And we’d be like, what? She’d be like, what does it mean to you? What do you feel? You know what I mean? And I always admired that kind of openness where she isn’t trying to force or hyper control this idea, but she let something like take on a new life or become created in that rehearsal instead of being a control freak. You know what I mean? And I think I’m really trying to do that more and more with my work. Like I’d like to know less what my work is about and just trust it.  

I love this notion. I think I would have a very hard time achieving that type of distance from my self in my thoughts about my work. I think that’s usually where my work begins thinking about thinking, um, partially, possibly, because that’s sort of a new space that I’m living in metacognition and just being, thinking about my thoughts, it’s a place that I like to be, but I can see the value in art and certainly in the creative process of openness and not knowing, I mean, in creative fields in general, they spring from not knowing or from not having already done. So there must be tremendous power there. That’s exciting to me. Um,  

Thank you. 

It’s hard though. It’s hard though, because I’m an extremely analytical person and I like, you know, I like being prepared and knowing what I’m doing, but sometimes in our industry, we are not given that, that luxury.  Exactly. Like it was going to say on, uh, the Black Midi music video, John L, that I did, I tried to just like, listen to the music, go on a walk and see what was like the first thing that popped into my head. And first off I was like, well, this sounds like Primus and it’s fucking awesome. And uh, I love Primus. And then that somehow triggered this memory of the mascot of Domino’s Pizza in the nineties, which was this little guy called The Noid. 

I remember this! 

Yeah. He was in this red unitards with these bunny ears and he moved really fast and he was like a stop motion. Playmation kind of guy. And I don’t know why that song made me think of him. And I was like, fighting it at first. I was like, you are such a fucking weirdo. Why are you thinking of the Domino’s Pizza mascot right now? And then I was like, you know what, no, fuck it. Let her in, let it in. Hence the dancers being in red unitard. Yeah. 

Yes. And then, and then turn it up. Like let it in and dial it up to 12. Turn it way up. Big, big fan, big, big fan of that work. It stopped me dead in my tracks. I’m not going to give away the ending. I want everybody to go watch it. Um, the Black Midi video, I will link to it in the show notes, click on over to the show notes for easy access. Um, I watched it two times back to back, laughed hysterically was concerned genuinely, um, may have, may have started sweating cause it really, it escalates and it’s wild and in, and playful and smart in so many ways. But one of the things I wanted to ask you because outside of my senior solo in 2004, you and I have not worked together professionally. So I am curious about your process when I watched that Black Midi video, which you, by the way, directed, designed and choreographed, correct. Edit, uh, edited. Did I say that as well?  

Yeah, I did all the animations and compositions and stuff in a crazy time crunch where also when that happens, that’s another time that’s really good to trust your instincts because you don’t have any other choice.  And you’re like, I don’t know what this is, but I’m going with  

Nice. I don’t know an answer to that question in order to move forward. No,  

I also knew with that one, because there were so many elements that I was like, you know, if I just make the dance really strong, everything else will kind of fall into place. And so I kind of made the dance, like the choreography kind of the first thought and then let you know, put all like put, made sure we had a lot of rehearsal, which in our world means four rehearsals back to back, no time to let it sink in for the dancers, just go. And that song is like five and a half minutes or something insane.  

It’s an opera. I think it’s has different phases and life’s of its own.  

And I was like, this song is pure fucking chaos to the dancers. I was like every five minutes. I was like, do you need water? And they were like, no, we’re good. And I was like, God Bless a dance company, Entity Dance Company. You know, now they’re not just music, video dancing. They’re used to being in rehearsal and like training all day, eight hours a day, they have a synergy with each other, you know, they can like, they, like as soon as they know the choreography that kind of get in sync through their peripheral vision. Ooh. You know, because  

Yeah, that’s the thing that we, and we don’t have that as much in the gig to gig economy that is, you know, freelancing in LA. Um, I am, I didn’t know, by the way it was the Entity Cast. I recognized a few key players, um, Karen who I absolutely adore and, and a handful of others, but that was the company that was entity.  

Raymond is not a part of the company, but he’s one of my favorite dancers in the world. And I just kept telling him, I’m like, you just need to give me that crazy Liza Minelli energy. Like every time just wide-eyed and insane. Yeah.  

Okay. Brilliant reference Liza plus Domino’s guy equals Black Midi Nina McNeely. Okay. So here’s my question though. I’m going to call on two, uh, of my favorite creative types. This might surprise you by the way, Jack Lemmon, honestly, I fancy Shirley McClain, but Jack has this famous saying, he obviously is a comedian to choose the five funniest things that you could possibly do commit to the funniest one and then play it deadly serious. And then David Fincher has a saying something. He, he mentioned about fight club once. He said, fight club is, uh, a film that is about a very deeply serious subject made by deeply unserious people. And I think part of the reason why I was initially attracted to you and your work and am still is because of that intersection of serious silliness. I remember like watching you dance in that big room at Michelle Latimer Dance Academy was like watching someone be possessed. It could be terrifying. It could be beautiful. It was very serious in your execution and in the way that it made me feel, but you were one of the deeply funniest people I have ever met. And I think in your recent work, both are being explored this, this humor. Um, I would love for you to talk a little bit about how humor factors into your process, if it does and where it shows up in the work.  

Yeah. Well, I was going to say, I should have mentioned earlier when I was listing all of the art forms. Um, but absurdist is one that I’m all that’s, what’s missing in the world right now. Nothing’s absurd. Everything’s so serious. They’re like very hard to be funny. Yeah. Instead of just ridiculous, you know what I mean? And I was like, yeah, I, I remember there being a lot more absurdist style work like in the nineties, like in the, even in the music video kind of realm, but I’ve always kind of felt like, I mean, I like extremely tragic and serious and dark things, topics and people, but I think when it takes itself too seriously, it almost like loses the darkness or the seriousness, like, I mean, any good horror film has all of this light, joyful dream-like stuff to create this amazing contrast for when the darkness comes and it makes it more unpredictable and surprising, you know?  

Yes. It unpredictable and surprising that pretty much sums it up, especially for that video. Um, and I think we could be here for a very long time if we were to assess all of your works, even my favorite ones, um, all of your projection mapping feels that way to me. It is extremely dramatic and precise and odd. Um, but I mean, obviously the nature of projection, it feels bright. It feels thoughtful. I wouldn’t say it feels funny. Like nothing about it makes me laugh, but I definitely don’t get the feeling. That’s like this isn’t for you. This is for art people. This is this isn’t for you. This is just for dark people. It feels like I don’t care who watches this because it’s what I think is important.  

And Surprisingly. Yeah. Surprisingly, my work does get laughs sometimes even when it’s a really serious piece, because I think it’s the sort of laugh of like, ha ha ha. How clever of her to do that? Like, there’s sometimes the strange giggle that comes out of the audience. That’s not like, oh, you tickled me. But something about the cleverness like caught me off guard and I have to be like, ah ha! 

We laughed for all sorts of reasons that are not jokes. We laugh when we’re uncomfortable. We laugh when we’re jealous. We laugh when we’re oh yes. I think all sorts of reasons for that.  

I also, I also love madness in general and I love laugh. Laughter can really have that feel it. You know what I mean? Well, that’s why I love Deena Thompson. She can always go to like a pure, that’s why she’s been my muse for so many years. She can just go completely mad in a matter of seconds. You know what I mean? Like when she laughs it’s terrifying, you know, like in a piece or something, because you’re like, fuck what this woman is on, on a good one. Like she’s losing it. I just love, I do love possession and madness. And like, I think I’ve been kind of digging into like what truly inspires me. And I’m, I really think it’s people and psychology even more than dance. Like I, that’s why I’m obsessed with true crime. Every, you know, I’ve watched every cult documentary ever made. I just put like cult new cult documentary, 2021 and YouTube, like everything to make sure I’m keeping up to date.  

That is such a move. Such a strong move.  

I just love that the power that people have over others and the confidence they have in their own bizarro ideas, you know, and I love to how something, I mean, we see this all the time, how something can start great with good intentions with pure intentions and then it can be so easily corrupted with greed, power, all of those things. And I just, I think people are absolutely fascinating.  

Uh, I want to go in seven or eight different directions from there. If we were having a barbecue, we could do that, but I’m going to try to stay streamlined here on the subject of madness specifically. I did not see the film of Climax, but I did see the trailer. I listened to an interview, a podcast that you did. And you talked a lot about the production of the film dance induced, and drug-induced probably both in equal parts mania. And I could only imagine what the behind the scenes of that project looks like, looked like was there a behind the scenes, was there an on and off camera or was that a 24/7 rave? And there happened to be a camera in the room for it.  

I mean the ladder, I, it was pretty like, I mean, just the energy of those style of dancers, like the way that they enjoy themselves as to like put on music and battle, like, you know, like all day, we’d have to be like, you guys need to save your energy. Like the camera’s not even on and you’re going insane.  

Okay. That’s good to know. And that’s what I would, I sensed might be the answer to that. I do want to point out that my first film, my first feature film, I was, uh, I was technically a dancer, but what I was doing was more background material. Toni Basil was the choreographer. The film was Charlie Wilson’s War, Tom Hanks. There’s a hot tub scene. 

Tracy Phillips is in that. 

She is incredible

Shooting her sexy sword dance.

It’s riveting. I it’s, it’s the most memorable part of that movie, other than every single thing, Phillip Seymour Hoffman doesn’t says yes. And the girl in the red dress in the hot tub scene raises hand, kidding will not even recognize me. I’m off on the side somewhere. But in that scene, we were party goers, you know, fancy people hanging out with other fancy people. And we were asked at some point by the director, Mike Nichols, no big deal to go do some cocaine quote over in the corner. And I remember being like Basil, Toni, Toni, I don’t, I don’t know how to do that. I’ve never done. She goes, you’ve never done cocaine. I was like, and was like kind of embarrassed. And then she showed me like how a lady would with her little pinky fingernail. And she just taught me how to do cocaine for a second surreal moment. Um, but there’s a, by the way, I’m not condoning drug use. I am encouraging a broad view of human life and the things that might be a dancer’s job that you never expect it to be your job, by the way. I don’t think you have to do drugs in order to book movies or know how to do drugs in movies is actually very different. But what I’m trying to get to, and when I talked to Reshma about, is dancers being human first, before they are dancers. I think that’s why I love dance actually is because humans do it, not robots, not, um, silks or flags or, I mean, I do think it’s cool sometimes the way trees move, but I like dance because humans do it. Um, the cocaine story was a sidebar. I don’t know how that came up, but actually, well, in climax, you probably did have to be teaching or choreographing behavioral, like conditions. Like the condition of  

I had to make, I had to edit together. Um, cause none of the dancers had done psychedelics before, which my jaw was on the floor. When I found that out, I was like, seriously, all you Europeans, have never dropped any acid or eaten a mushroom damn. Um, so Gaspar is like, we really need to help them because you know, as Gasper and I know not everyone acts the same on that drug. Like he would say like, you know, someone needs to be in heaven. Like the whole night never stops dancing. Is just on cloud nine in their own world. Cause there’s always someone like that at the rave, you know? And then cause at first when we’d be like, okay, you guys are starting to feel the drugs. They started all acting drunk. And we were like, no, no, no, no, no, no, not that, no, not that. So I edited together this horrid, terrifying, uh, video of people on PCP, Flakka, acid threw in some Butoh facial expressions for fun. And this is one where the sky just has all this drool doing that, like primal scream face. And I was like, this is also powerful. Um, but yeah,  Yeah, Yes, this is an option, you know? And like some people really lose themselves on drugs and some seem like they’re barely affected even though perhaps in their mind, they’re going through something crazy. They’re more like still and kind of chill, letting the experience wash over them. So I did have to help them with a lot of that to give like a variety to all of it and not for everyone to just look drunk.  

I think it’s important to point out to people listening who are aspiring choreographers, that there is so much more to this job description than making up cool moves  

Or an eight count. Honestly. Like I always tell upcoming choreographers, like you’re going to be amazed that the amount of times you don’t have to make up a phrase, zero. Not that no, you have to like it’s movement direction or like storytelling or, or composition a still composition with a bunch of bodies. There’s so many, you’re painting a picture a lot of times for film. And it’s not really about the moves. So many things when it comes to like cam the camera and dance that you usually won’t do a phrase because or you do and then they don’t catch any of it  

Or they cut away from it.  

Yeah, exactly. Yeah.  

It’s it is possible that you can love dance intensely and know that it is not the most interesting thing to watch.  

Yeah. That’s why I think I will. I’m always attracted to dancers that are also actors where they can really be human in a moment. Like I think we were talking about this the other day. Like I prefer to just see two people stare at each other and that electricity that happens when two people look at into each other’s eyes over someone doing some long phrase of choreography. Yeah. Yes. I also was going to say like, I’ve always been a huge fan of Pina Bausch because she does praise work, but I love how she’ll just drill it into the ground. And it keeps repeating and repeating there’s something too about like young choreographers always want to make like every count and every move is something new and different, which I used to do also when I was young, you know? And then I started to learn about like the power of repetition and it’s like, once the audience is familiar with something and they know that it’s coming, then they can start thinking about, but what does this movement mean? Or like, what are they going through while they’re doing this movement? You know what I mean?  

So you get to watch emotional trajectory instead of physical trajectory, physical movement in space. The, the idea of repetition has helped me tremendously in my freestyle as well, specifically in a circle or free-styling. I had this made up completely self-imposed notion that everything I did had to be cool and new and look good from all 360 degree angles. And it wasn’t until I started, like, let’s just do a jazz square this whole round. I’m just going to do a jazz square, except for you won’t recognize it as a jazz square. So is power obviously, but also great freedom in repetition. And it directs our eye to something other than the moves, which if you’re a choreographer working in the entertainment industry, it will almost always be moves to serve another purpose. Even if that purpose is make the pop star look desirable, make the pop star look dangerous. Um, explain that these two characters are now in love. I don’t recall ever seeing a breakdown or a treatment that’s like this video is about cool moves.  

No, no, there’s always like a purpose and it’s usually not that. And I also feel like I can always spot a truly good dancer by seeing them on a dance floor at like rave or party and that they don’t feel like they need to do all this impressive phrase, work, freestyle insanity, but they just groove and like let the music wash over them. You know, it is funny when you see all these trained dancers on the dance floor, you’re like, this is embarrassing.  

Yeah. Ironically, that is the thing that is not taught. And I know art people would argue that it can’t be taught. I happen to disagree. I don’t think I was a very funky person for much of my life. I moved to LA fell in love with  fell in love. I, well, I just, I fell in love with street styles and got very lucky in my timing and in my placement and happened to have like in-person influence from some really key people who like were there at the beginning, Toni Basil Popin’ Pete Sugar Pop. I really don’t think I learned how to feel music in a non, like driving in the car headbop type away, like in my whole body, through my fingernails. And in my feet, I didn’t learn that until probably Lockadelic’s class at the old millennium. She taught locking every, I think two times a week maybe. Um, and we did not stop dancing for the hour and a half. There’s no like, okay then the right foot steps on one, let’s go from the top. That’s left on eight, right on like there’s no talking about it. You’re actively dancing for an hour and a half. And that’s how I learned to be funky. So I do think it can be taught, but it is interesting that people who have trained so intensely have such a little awareness of how to do that.  

Yeah. And I, I also think that, you know, at Michelle’s like when I was younger, like I was pretty efficient in both hip hop and contemporary, but always was like obsessed with technique and contemporary ballet. And like, I just was, that was my jam. And so definitely 

I can still see your passe. I can see your freaking posse hips are so square and that’s the highest possible you ever did see,  

But I think it’s interesting. Cause at first, like when I started teaching and choreographing in LA, I did, it was very contemporary and like technical. And then one day I was like, I am denying my Michael Jackson Obsession. Like I’ve kept her in a closet, no pun intended,  

That was funny. 

Uh, for far too long. And as soon as I started, like letting that out more, which I don’t think people maybe recognize how many Michael centric kind of movements there are that I do. I love neck-ograohy and, uh, you know, hands and kind of intricate things that are very much him. Um, that that’s when I started feeling like I was starting to get a little bit of an aesthetic and everything I made, wasn’t like a brand new idea, brand new idea. Like it started to have a little bit of a shape, you know? And so I really just let it in. Yeah, yeah, yeah.  

I don’t have a gentle segway, but I do have a lot that I want to talk to you about. And actually, perhaps this does relate to the signature and what we were talking about earlier, um, being weird or out of the box, and I really want to talk to you because I know this is something that I’ve dealt with in different ways, in different phases of my life. But listeners I’m assuming must have is this notion of popularity and YouTube and Instagram have given this quantifiable number to your reach, your influence and to some people, your value. I would love to hear your thoughts on what is your relationship with popularity and social media in general? I’m just so curious.  

Yeah. When I thought of that question, what is my relationship with popularity? My answer is that I try not to have one. You know, I try all that matters to me is like the pursuit of truth and self-expression, and if that is becomes popular. Cool. And if not, that’s cool too. And if it doesn’t happen until much later, you know, sometimes takes a little time for the world to catch up or whatever. That’s. That’s cool too. I think like you were saying, it’s quantifiable, that’s questionable to me because I think as a working choreographer, sure. Some people might be looking at your Instagram and your followers and stuff, but I think for a true, like for there to be longevity in a career and integrity, it’s a more about your it’s about, are you dependable? Are you easy to work with, do you know how to nurture someone else’s vision? Like those are the things that bring you, keep bringing you back and also  

And those things don’t get a follower account.  

Hell no, no one knows about those. You know? And it’s more about like your relationship with directors and them talking to other directors that are looking for a choreographer and actually most of the time has nothing to do with Social Media or your YouTube. You know, it’s more word of mouth because I think in the entertainment industry, people want to guarantee that they’re going to have someone dependable more than who’s hot right now. You know, because who’s hot right now might not be experienced enough to handle the job. You know what I mean?  

Thank you for sharing that. I think that may come as reassuring or slightly intimidating depending on where the person listening falls on the timeline of their career. I can imagine somebody aspiring to be a choreographer like, well, how do I become dependable if I have not worked yet? How do, how does the word of mouth support me? You know, this chicken/egg conversation.  

I will say though, that what I’ve noticed is it’s about like for a choreographer and I think times are changing. So it’s a little different, but you know, when I was younger, it’s like, there wasn’t any social media you’d have to be like in this group show and even carnival or whatever, but it’s about being prolific and like constantly making and constantly creating and not just being like, here’s me doing my process in my house and my sweats, no, put in the effort, put it on stage, get people there and, and be okay with maybe like being experimental and sometimes making some questionable, you know, the quality is questionable. Like that’s okay. I think before social media, we were so risky and brave because you, no one was going to see it. No one was filming it and you didn’t have like a fucking brand to protect, you know what I mean?  It was like, you could just be really risky and experimental and just go for it. And sometimes like be maybe too experimental and it didn’t work and that’s okay. But I think that’s how you learn, learn yourself. And I feel like with all this editing and filtering and preciousness, like you might be just pigeon holing yourself. Yeah. You’re just putting yourself in even branding. Like you’re putting yourself in a box. Like what if that changes? Like what if one day you wake up and you want to do something totally different? Like then you’re going to feel ashamed that you want to change  

Or no one that you think that you have to rebrand first before you can do that thing.  

Yeah. I think there’s like a lack of flexibility and malleability. Like I’m totally okay with like my opinion changing, my art form changing, like all of that. Like I also get bored easily, you know what I mean? And I just want, I want to keep learning and trying and getting into new things. Like, and I think when you’re really confident, you know, that you will keep making great work. You know what I mean? I think if you really push yourself, you don’t need to be like someone stole my idea. You should be flattered by that. And you should also know that you’re going to have more great ideas. There’s too much preciousness these days. Definitely  

On that thought. No. On one of the thoughts that came right before that, this notion of, of you being able to change your mind. I wonder how tightly, if at all, that relates to your, um, ability and willingness to change your medium as well. You talked about getting bored easily. You are absolutely a person that wears many hats. We’ve talked about your choreography, but, and a little bit of your animation and design skills, but you are also a full-blown editor, creative director, all of these things without having to stop being anyone being any part of the other. But it seems like you allowed your, you gave yourself permission to be a multi person without losing or making it mean something about the other parts of you that you also love and are good at. Is that a fair assessment?  

Yeah. And I think, you know, anyone that wears many hats or is interested in many things might be worried about that, you know, that famous saying jack of all trades master of none, you know, and I, I always worried about that too. Like shit, I should probably just stick to one thing and really master it, you know, instead of always being like spread out like an octopus with my tentacles in so many jars, you know, that’s how I sometimes feel. But you know, like take animating for instance, like I have stopped myself from going into the world of 3D because I feel like it will suck all of my time and my soul and I’ll be obsessed technically with this 3D thing. And because I cut myself off from that, I’ve just keep diving further into like 2D and collage kind of like, you know, the Black Midi videos, like total collage, you know, it’s green screen with backgrounds and stuff that I’ve actually over the years have started to find like an aesthetic in that. Because I think people don’t realize that like how much restraint and restriction like actually opens new doors, you know, and pushes you, it pushes you to just think in a different way. And sometimes it’s good to just put rules on something and see what happens. Cause it forces you to think in a new way. But, um, I would encourage anyone in the realm of dance or choreography to try editing because a basic editor edits so boring for on the floor, you know, on the snare where we’ve been training our whole lives to like push the music, like go againist it. Yeah. Use, use the silence. Like, you know, go where the song might be really fast, but there’s this one underlying slow tone, like dance to that instead. So I think that most, most types in the dance realm would be surprised at how good at editing they are. You know what I mean? And that, and I’ll say to anyone to that, like if you have other things that you’re interested in and you found that you are skilled in them or that you’re really interested enough to like learn the skill, like do it because like, it was such a crazy lesson for a lot of people this past two years during the pandemic, like I had really geared my focus into like touring and live and creative directing for live stage and all this stuff. And then it was just all cut off, over. I was like, dammit, but I was so glad that I have also editing in my pocket and animating, cause I was able to do a bunch of jobs like that during this where I didn’t have to go anywhere. And I was in my own house just being a nerd, you know, for 14 hours a day. Um, but like it’s really helpful. I think it is scary though for most people. Cause they, they think they’re going to be too spread out and not good at all of these many hats, but just kind of mediocre at a bunch of things. So I don’t know. I think it’s powerful. I think if you are really interested in other things, like try it, you know, dance is the most like time consuming art form and it is kind of fleeting in a way, you know what I mean? Like it’s not like a painting. You can take a photograph of a dancer, but it’s not the same. You know what I mean? It’s something to be watched live. And in real time, you know, even like a film of a dance, doesn’t really capture what it feels like to see that live. You know what I mean?  

No, it is fleeting. It is singular. The moment of it happens and then it’s gone.  

And thats the beauty of it too. 

It’s so special. I think I love it. I get really excited by it. I’m really grateful to count myself a person who has experienced that and helps other people to experience that or invites. I think other people do experience that. Um, and I also am a person, as I mentioned before, dance is not the king of my universe. It might be the queen, but people, I think dance is interesting because people don’t get me wrong. I will watch a Boston dynamics, robot dog dance for an hour straight, but I love humanness. And I mean, what is humanness, if not fleeting, changing, we’re mortal, it’s going to stop. So why not? Why not try a thing that interests you? I just, it makes, I understand the fear of not being good. I really do. But the only way you can assure that you will never become good at it is by not trying it

Its good to fail, if you want to be good at anything, you should be failing sometimes. You know, and I think the preciousness that we were talking about is like, you know, the first few things that some of my favorite things I’ve ever directed, just got canned and never saw the light of day. Some, some in some cases the music was never even released just a tragedy, but they know, uh, I had to learn, I think rejection is such a powerful thing for people to experience. And I think right now we’re really sheltering ourselves and the children from it. But I think it’s important. 

By championing inclusivity and things. Yeah.  

Yeah. And I think that is, I think that is a little dangerous. Like it’s cool to not be a part of a community or a group. It’s okay. It’s okay to be a loner. Like if we know anything about history, it’s that those loners created the best poetry, the best artwork, philosophies, all of these things. And that I think if everybody’s included, what is the art of the future going to look like? I’m a little scared, you know, I don’t  

Think about let’s talk about it.  

Yeah. I don’t think people should be just bullying kids left and right or anything. You know, I think we have to be gentle with each other. Absolutely. But I think it’s okay to not fit in and to not be popular that might actually really build some character and a unique voice. Like I, I try to not be like seduced by trends. You know, it’s very hard these days because they’re all over the place and they’re in your face 

And they’re designed to be so seductive.

Right. And, and the, like this desire to be relevant again in the eye of the beholder, what does relevance even mean? You know what I mean? Does it mean that you’re getting 500 emojis a day from people? What does that, we know what happened to like conversation, phone calls? Like I’m sad that things, social media sometimes reduces our connection instead of increasing it. Like, we really think that like, oh, it’s so cool. How we’re all connected. I’m like, yeah, but you just watched something that I put so much of my heart into and you replied with a smiley with star eyes. I’m getting nothing from that. You know what I mean?  

This is my philosophy. I believe that connection is a feeling and you can feel connected to someone through a two dimensional screen. Um, and if I can feel connected to you here, I can feel connected to you anywhere. I don’t think we have to be talking in person to feel connected. That said I would much prefer to be hanging out at your house right now. And I would much prefer to see your work in person, opposed to watching it on YouTube. Um, and, and the preciousness of knowing that it’s about to be gone versus this ‘Oh, I’ll just hit replay and I’ll watch it again.’ I there’s pleasure. I get pleasure from both because I can binge watch a thing. I have probably watched the Lord of the Rings trilogy 25 times the extended editions. And so I’m like, I love the availability to really go in on something. Um, but I digress. So that’s another direction I want to go with this.  

I think I was going to say it’s more even like the difference between a text message and a phone conversation and a face to face conversation. You know what I mean, where they’re cool that we’re connected, but the electricity that happens between face-to-face like in a face-to-face conversation there, nothing compares to that. I don’t think, I mean, and unfortunately we’re in a situation where we can’t do as much of that, but I even mean like a phone call, you know, hearing someone’s voice and feeling their energy and feeling their tone and all of that stuff.  

And, and, and understanding, pause and silence. Um, I, this is something that I got to know very intimately during my vocal cord recovery, and we all have different ideas about what silence means culturally, personally. Um, and I think that really is hard to detect through texts. Um, so interesting. I, I wanna dig into really quick counterculture. I want to share a reference. A reference is there’s an article that my husband shared with me in document journal by a woman called Caroline Busta. I think I am saying that, right. I hope I’m saying that, right. It is called the internet did not kill counterculture. You just won’t find it on Instagram. 

Exactly!

And she writes, and I love this. I wanted to share this quote to be truly counter-cultural in a time of tech hegemony. One has to above all betray the platform, which may come in the form of betraying or divesting from your personal public online self. And I think it’s so true. This article has a lot of like peak insights and talk about old punk old, you know, underground type of art. Um, I’ll send you this article, Nina. I’ll put it in the show notes, but you know, when you, what year did you get to LA?  

2001.  

Okay. And you talked about creating work for clubs, where, what were these shows? Who, who was going to them? Like what was underground then? And what is it now?  

Wow, interesting you bring that up because I did see, I’ve been kind of running into old homeys from that time. And I saw one the other day that I was like, oh my God. Remember when we did that cheerleading number and you guys threw me like two stories in the air and I almost shat my pants and yeah. And it was like, and it started with like a pollical ribbon dance. And he was like, yeah, but were you in the version with like the spaghetti and the kiddie pools where like rough the spaghetti all over ourselves? And I was like, no, but what the fuck happened? Like we fucking go in, so bizarre. So ridiculous. Like, it was all about props, like, okay, we’re going to fucking dip our face in Elmer’s glue. And then in this bowl of sequence, boom, look change, you know, or like, whatever, like we just used to do nutso stuff or like I bought the super high powered fan from home Depot, shout out to home Depot. They don’t know how much they have supported dancers club performances and careers.  

I do not test me. I will come back with a sponsorship or endorsement deal.  Um, everybody’s addidas except for us just solid orange home Depot.  

Yeah. Well, for club wise, God, and I just saw some homies last night that we were like, you guys, we know I’ve known each other for like 14 years, like from when we were babies in these club environments at these raves and stuff, but like one of the most prevalent was Mustache Mondays, um, uh, Nacho Nava who rest in power, um, really started a whole counter-culture world in downtown LA when downtown LA was like gross and scary and no one wanted to be there. Um, and Marlon Pelayo, and I did a lot of duets over the years, some good, some horrible, but we always showed up, you know, and it was on a Monday night, Monday night. Yes. And it was weekly, not even monthly. We were all there at one point, maybe in like 2006 or something, there was something every night, there was also a party called Shits and Giggles. Um, that was in this huge space with like a balcony, like weird, like a gorgeous theater that we just did the most rowdy rug rat crap you’ve ever seen. And then, uh, Ryan, Heffington also had a show called fingered, which is incredible. That was a monthly, there was different themes, like back to school, fingered back to school, like a monster themed one or whatever. And Ryan, I mean, it’s so incredible. And also doesn’t take himself too seriously. There’s so many funny numbers he’d make all of our costumes we’d rehearsed in his house. Like it was incredible. Um, but yeah, we just used to do a lot, like every time someone’s like, oh, we need performers for this. And it was, we’d get like a hundred bucks, you know what I mean? And we’d use that mostly for materials and to like get some cheap wine after. But, uh, but yeah. And also, yeah, we didn’t need money to do shit back then either. Like, he’d be like, perfect. You’re going to come out of this cardboard box and like, yeah, me and Marlon did to duet once where I came out of a cardboard box, there’s a bag of Cheerios. That’s prop. I, my costume was like a little kid’s Rambo costume with like the bullets or two of those just duct tape pastries. I believe not very healthy, but, um, we just, we just went crazy and we, like I said, like sometimes there’s no one there, you know? And we were like, well, I guess we’re still going to just wear our heart on our sleeve and go, go the fuck in, even though there’s 10 people here, you know, but we learned so much from that. And also it was kind of cool to be like, oh, well, if you weren’t there, you missed it. You know, that was kind of like how you could be in. You have to know, you know, and you had to like, and you know, you couldn’t see it anywhere. And if you missed it, you missed it. Also there’s something to be said about when I first came to LA and started doing more like group shows that, you know, we’re not like in, that were in theaters and not in clubs. We’d get written up, uh, by the Dance Critic in the LA times, every time you did the live performance, like what incredible, where they, he was, what’s his name? Lewis Segal. He was so mean, but brilliant. He’d be like, this is a scatter shot of ideas. It makes no sense. I mean, you’d be like, oh, like you were actually getting critique. Cause I think that’s something also missing. Like, everyone’s like, oh my God, I love your stuff. It’s great. And I’m all I need some haters. Where are the people that are like, I hate how you always do this boring witchy, troll crap. Like I wish you would, you know, I’m so sick of seeing this. I feel like you can get a little bit of that on YouTube.  

A little bit of that.  

I don’t know who said this, but like, if you don’t have any haters, somebody lying  

Or you, or you’re not doing something, right.  

Yeah. Or you’re not pushing yourself. Right. You’re staying in something safe or whatever. So I don’t know. 

All right, everybody go out there and get yourself some haters. That’s it for me, Nina and me, my mom is going to be so pissed. I do that wrong all the time. Nina and I, no, Nina and me, shit. I don’t know. Um, okay. This is, this has been lovely. I love this insight. I think you’re brilliant. I am just shouting your praises forever, but yo, if you want me to tell you that your shit is awful, I will tell you that. I don’t believe that it’s true, but I’ll say, uh, that’s very, that’s a very, um, LA thing to do. Like, wait, what do you want me to be to you? What do you want me to say? But, um, it’s not an LA thing. No, it’s a people pleaser thing. It’s uh, I grew up being a dancer thing. Really, really aiming to please. Yes. Um, okay. Here’s how I would like to finish. Speaking of, I grew up a dancer, we both grew up in Colorado and I want to play a quick little round of how do you know you’re from Colorado burnout, round of super questions. Are you ready for that? Yes. They’re going to come so fast. Okay. How often do you wash your car?  

Just got a new one. Just got a new car, covered in dust.  

Yeah. Yes. The answer is like almost never.  

Yeah, almost never. And I think I need a shamwow. Well, I need to order one of those, I can just use the hose at my house and spray her down.  

Um, everybody listening is probably thinking, well, not everybody listening. People who listen often are probably thinking of me fondly. I have a carwash across the street from my house. And as a person who has a podcast, that can be a tremendous challenge. I have, I hate them. Number one. And even when I liked them, when they were a hand carwash before they got the screeching eels of vacuum death, before that, I still never got my car wash and it was literally in my front yard. So 

I do love the experience of going through the old school carwash with the flipping flap. It really feels like you’re going into a different dimension.  

And when you do that, don’t you feel like you’re seven.  

Yeah I love watching videos of kids going through them. Screaming How they terrified  

You’re in the mouth of a beast and it’s got multiple good esophagus is a soft guy and tone 

Its the birthing experience all over again 

Too soon, too soon. Give me out. Okay. Were so much for rapid fire. Um, how do you get the ice off your windshield when you’re going to school senior year, let’s call it that  

The scrape, a small enough hole that you can see through it with one eye  

With what? With, what do you scrape?  

Uh, it’s usually like a glove contraption, a little scrapey do at the end of it.  

I usually, I don’t know how I would always be misplacing the scrape dues. I have used CDs. I have used my school ID. I have like taken off, taken off a shoe and stood sock foot. Okay. Good. Good. Don’t check, check, check. Um, what are Rocky mountain oysters?  

Uh, those are, uh, bull balls. Yes.  

Testicles.

Testes. I’ve actually never really tried those and I’m pretty adventurous with food.

The next time we go back home and do that. Okay. Final question. 

Yeah set a date for balls.  

Hot balls date done. Uh, what is the name of the theme park in Denver? 

Elitch Gardens. 

Yes. Only a tourist would call it six flags. Congratulations. You passed your from Colorado. 

It was an actual garden. You remember the old one with the white, with the white rollercoaster. That was, yeah, that would rattle your brain because it was so old.  

Terrible, terrible. They probably called it the brain scrambler. It was called the twister.  

Yeah, the twister. Yes.  

Wow. Good job. Okay. Um, all right. Final thoughts. This is how I would like to wrap it up as your PR uh, unofficial PR person. I strongly encourage everybody listening to go check out Nina’s website. I genuinely think that being there is more fun than going to a movie. It is more thrilling than going to a haunted house. It is the best of both of those worlds. Please go visit her work and get lost. Um, and we’ll see you later. Just go get lost for a while. Enjoy yourself. Um, I think the world of you, thank you so much for being here. 

I love you so much, so much  

Bye! 

There you have it. My friend, I hope you learned a lot from Nina. I always have, and I get the feeling I always will. I loved what she had to say about social media and the way it has changed our bravery in art. I loved what she had to say about preciousness and the impermanence of live dance. Oh man. The takeaways from this one, the list is long. I hope that after listening to this episode, you’re ready to think outside the box experiment, be bold. And of course keep it funky. I will talk to you soon. Bye

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 and review because your words move me too. Number two, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops and so much more. All right. That’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #92 Questions That Move Me. Answers That Guide You.

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #92 Questions That Move Me. Answers That Guide You.
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In this Q&A episode I get to tackle questions from listeners that span the spectrum from technical to philosophical.  I share the best advice I’ve ever gotten (from David Frickin Fincher), and I talk about some outstanding gigs!  I tell you about the race and dance history programs/ resources that have been game changers to me, I outline my mental health regimine, AND talk about “that talk” that you get to have with your potential agent.  This episode is rich thanks to YOU and your questions!  Keep em coming, and keep it funky!

Quick Links:
Join the WTMMCOMM: thedanawilson.com/wtmmcomm

In The Heights Choreo Team Episode: https://www.thedanawilson.com/podcast/ep-78-ith

Karida Griffith’s R3D Race and Dance History: https://karidagriffith.com/history/

Moncell Durden’s Intangible Roots: https://www.moncelldurden.com/onlinecourse

Passion Fruit Seeds by Passion Fruit Dance Company: https://newyorklivearts.org/artist/passion-fruit-dance-company/

Transcript:

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, Hey there. Good day. Hello. Hi. Welcome to Words that Move me. I’m Dana. I am stoked you are here and I’m stoked to be hitting you with a Q and A episode today. It’s been a while since I did this, um, and times are changing and the things that you want to know are changing too. I got some really great Qs submitted when I put my, ask me anything out there on Instagram, and I am a very excited to A them. But first let’s celebrate. I start every episode with wins because I think it’s important to celebrate what is going well. And today I have a lot to celebrate, but I can not get over this one. When this past Sunday, I went on a morning beach walk with my husband, AKA vice chief, our favorite beache is Dockweiler, um, because the planes from LAX fly directly overhead, and you can light stuff on fire there, which very, very much appeals to Vice Chief. Now, I don’t recall actually how long we walked for. Uh, but there was one moment, one moment in particular, that was very special that I would like to celebrate because this moment a plane, uh, uh, like jumbo freight plane, like not a passenger plane. One of those fancy FedEx types flew overhead. It was a very overcast morning and the sound seemed to be bouncing off of all of the surrounding clouds. The sound from overhead was coming from more places than where my eyes saw the plane. And it was just so unusual to feel this multi-directional really deep and loud rumbling coming from above me. And then watching this jumbo jet disappear into a white sky was ridiculous. So that’s happening up above my head. And then below my feet, a wave came like gently about up to my shins, like were not even shin really. I would say upper ankle, like where you do a frappe from, and that cold water took the sand from under my feet. So I was having this up above sensation and below my toes sensation. And my body felt sandwiched between these senses and it was really remarkable. And I know it maybe sounds simple or silly, but I felt so small in that moment. Um, but also so big in my ability to feel so it was a special moment. I wanted to put a pin in that and celebrate it out loud. So there you go. Good job life. Great job ocean. Thank you, Dockweiler I love you, Daniel. That is my win. Now you go, what’s going well in your world. Any sensational experiences to claim as wins, bring it. Let’s go  

Sweet. Congratulations. Let’s keep winning together. And let’s certainly keep up with these sensational experiences. And let’s also dig into these Qs. Um, I got so many Qs, actually. Qs are questions, PS, um, and quite a few personal ones, actually. So even though I do have a pretty good, ‘how did you meet your husband’ story? And dare I say, and even better engagement story. I think for time sake, I’ll filter for the career slash industry slash make stuff related questions, which I promise are no less exciting. They also include true love. So get ready, get set. And let’s dig in. 

The first question is what is the best advice you would give to an aspiring dance teacher?  

Two parter. You guys know me very hard to get one answer out of me. You almost always get two. Number one, and this is something I’m, I’m still very much learning for myself. You don’t have to teach it all at once. Not every day needs to have all of the things. Not every lesson needs to teach everything from every angle. It can’t. And in fact, if that is your approach, this feeling, this desire to give it all all the time, it actually can be really difficult to process that amount of information coming from those many different directions. I know this to be true because I have been a student in my voice therapy as of late and too many things, too many ways of thinking too many modes or schools of thought on any one thing can be really overwhelming, especially to a beginner. So, um, yeah, that I would say, I think my best teachers have showed restraint and calculated timing regarding when they teach what things and when certain things get introduced. So there’s that. And then there’s this, I believe it was my favorite artist of all time of all planets in this universe or any other, the one and only Tom Sachs that said “Every time you teach something is an opportunity to understand it, deeper yourself.” Okay. That speaks to me on two different levels. Number one, this quote lifelong learner level. Yes, I do believe in being a student forever and that really great students make really great teachers and vice versa, but I think it’s really important to keep learning, not just the things that you don’t know, not just to be seeking new knowledge, but to keep learning the things you already know to learn them deeper. Maybe even so deeply that you come to question them and might even change your mind about what you believed to be true about them. There is an exciting journey and a very good example in that I think it’s a good example to set, to always be learning, to always be questioning. And of course, to always be knolling get into it. Um, okay. Moving on. 

What are some of the ways you have educated yourself on racism in dance? Yes. I love this question. One of the ways I have done this is through virtual workshops. Karida Griffith. Holy smokes is a saint, um, Karisa offers an incredible six week course that offers age-appropriate fact-based lessons about race and dance history. The program is called R3D, R Three D, which stands for roots, rhythm, race, and dance. So that’s easy to remember and we’ll definitely link to that program. In the show notes of this episode, she also offers a free training series that I 10 out of 10 would recommend, especially if you teach, tap, hip hop or other forms that stem from the African diaspora, which is damn near all forms of dance for the record. Um, let’s see. Also in 2020, I participated in Moncell Durden’s Intangible roots workshop. Moncell was also a guest on the podcast I’ll link to that episode and to intangible routes. Um, I also took the Passion Fruit Seeds workshop, a virtual workshop organized by Passion Fruit Dance Company. Let’s see, um, this year a little more recently, I started reading a book called A little Devil in America notes in praise of black performance by Hanif Abdurraqib. And I really recommend this book 10 out of 10 stars, all available stars. Um, but I think another thing that’s really important to mention an area of personal development that I probably don’t mention as much is simply having conversations, talking to people with different lived experience than mine. Um, and these are mostly conversations that happen off the air, not on the podcast and not broadcast conversations. And I think that’s really important. Um, I would love to close out this question by asking all of you the same question because, um, I know I am just scratching the surface in my personal work on this subject. So I would love to know what am I missing. Um, if you’ve experienced breakthrough educational moments on the subject of racism and dance, I would love to hear about it. Any programs, any conversations, any resources, please bring them my way. Um, perhaps the best way to do that is on Instagram. You can tag me in a post at words that move me podcast or a direct message. I’m open to that as well. Whereas the movie podcast and or I am DanaDaners on the gram, uh, let’s keep moving forward. 

This is one of my favorite questions and it also broke my heart. Are you still a mime at heart? Oh yes, of course I am. Um, and this broke my heart a little bit because I am a mime at heart more than in body. And that makes me sad because, you know, basically I simply don’t practice. My body has not been miming for a very long time, but I believe that a mime at heart and in art makes the invisible visible. And perhaps I am flattering myself by saying this, but I believe that’s what I do. It is certainly something I enjoy to do is to give something that doesn’t have a form, a form shape structure feeling. Um, so thank you for this question. I think it’s reminded me of what I love most about mime and perhaps might even move me to be miming in the very near future. Maybe even today, who knows fine. I’ll put it on the calendar. I’m going to put it on it’s going on the calendar next week. I will be miming. 

Next question. Ooh, what job stretched you the most as a dancer slash as a human? Hmm. I think these might be two different answers. Is that okay? You know, me two answers for everything. The job that stretched me most as a dancer would undeniably be my first world tour with Mr. Justin Timberlake. That was the Future Sex Love Show. I was 20 when we started working on that show, I was also Marty Kudelka’s assistant at that time. And Marty was the co creative director and the choreographer of that show. It was my first world tour and I was jumping and do a big, super steep learning curve. Um, you know, those like end of the world disaster movies where the big wave comes and crushes the city of San Francisco or something like that. That was the learning that I did on that job. I learned about performance. I learned about mechanics. I learned about show structure, song, structure, um, how to work and collaborate as part of a team, how to take direction, how to follow through, I mean, you name it. I learned it or at least started learning it on that job. So thank you, JT. Thank you, Marty, for bringing me on in that role. Um, and thank you also to all of the dancers I was on the road with. I learned so much from each of you, Nanci Anderson, Michelle Martinez, Eddie Morales,, Ava Bernstein, Mitchell, lovey shout out Tammy Fey, longtime friend. And of course Marty Kudelka himself. Um, we also for a moment had had the pleasure of our swing joining us at the time the swing was Kenny Wormwald. Um, I am always learning from all of you all and just think so fondly of that time, steep learning curve, super challenging, super worth all of it. Now, the job that changed me most as a human I would say is probably working as an associate choreographer on in the Heights. If you haven’t already listened to the episode. Um, the podcast that I did with the rest of the choreography team, Christopher Scott, Eddie Torres Jr, Princess Serrano, Ebony Williams, and Emilio Dosal, joined by our fabulous choreo team assistant Meghan Mcferran all of us in a zoom room, hashing it out. That was so much fun. So if you want to hear more about the ways I changed as a human on that gig, listen to that full episode, cause you’ll get all that and more, but I’ll say, you know, to wrap it up kind of loosely, that I became a more compassionate creator on that project, compassionate towards myself and my process and towards the group of people I was working with and helping to represent on a big screen. It was completely transformative, that experience. So, um, big love to my In the Heights team and also to my JT family, huge, huge learning and progress. Thanks to all of you. 

Okay. Um, Ooh, here’s a good one. Do I have any advice for starting new stages of life? Well, yes, I’ve got like 90 episodes worth. Um, but I’ll say this in, in kind of in keeping with this stage theme in a very tight answer to a very big question. I think my best advice for starting new stages of life is to find your light. Does it need to be a spotlight? It could be a soft light, but find your light. This might mean bringing it with you, finding a thought that can serve as your own personal lighting technician follow spot, if you will, that can follow you and keep you illuminated and illuminating. This is the secret. 

Next question. And I love this one so much too. What is the biggest thing that you learned about yourself as a mover through the pandemic? What is the biggest thing you learned about yourself as a mover through the pandemic? Frighteningly enough, I think it’s that the thing I love most about dance is dancers. Once people stopped being a part of the dance equation, I liked doing it less and I did it less. And I think that that’s okay. I really do think my biggest takeaway was that I love dancers, um, and little teaser here in next week’s episode, I am joined by one of my greatest inspirations, a dear friend and mega monster epic creator, super powerhouse megaforce Nina McNeely. Nina will be joining me on the podcast. And we talk a little bit about exactly that. So do turn it turn in. Oh, that’s cool. I should start saying that turn in to next week’s episode. Like chaine turn or little triplet turn. You can do an inside turn. You could do a fouette turn. You could do a, any kind of turn, just turn in next week, but don’t, but also be turning out, turn out next week too, but also, I mean, turn in, I’m here for it.  Wow. We’re back. I love movers and I learned it in the pandemic. I did get to a place where I was dancing more. It’s possible that I danced more during the pandemic than I did the year before. Um, mm, no year before was In the Heights. No, no way I danced more. Um, but I did get to a place where I enjoyed dancing alone in my dining room, but, uh, yeah, that was it. That’s the takeaway. I love movers. 

Okay. Next question. How do you maintain good mental health? This is a big question. And I think there are a lot of ways to do this. My favorite way. I think the most useful way, the most effective way is by managing my mind. And I talk about mind management a lot on the podcast. What I mean when I say that is that I, I try my best to sift through the facts of the world, the neutral unchangeable circumstances that happen in day-to-day life. And I try to remain conscious and in control of what I think about those facts, the facts of the world. Um, I try to be deliberate about how I respond and, um, that is, is really my number one practice for maintaining good mental health is by separating my thoughts from the facts and remembering how much agency I have over my experience of the world. Um, that is a big one. 

Next question. What is the best advice you ever received? Ooh, um, people live given me life advice and pretty profound stuff. I think a lot of it shows up here on the podcast, but I don’t know if I’ve talked about this one moment and it struck me like these words of wisdom speared me like straight through the sternum sternum, spear pierced my ever loving being. And, um, these words came to me on set one day on set for Justin Timberlake’s Suit and Tie music video, which was directed by David Fincher. I was assisting Marty Kudelka and I remember what I was wearing. I remember my shoes weren’t that comfortable. I remember bustling around being really busying myself, trying to be as effective as possible, trying to be useful, trying to be in more places than one at once. And I remember David turning to me at one point pretty cold. I mean, I do think he’s a warm person, but this, this moment in that he looked at me felt pretty cool on the temperature spectrum. He said, can I give you some advice? And I like every muscle in my body contracted and I respond, yes, of course. I’m like searching for my notebook, please. What is w what is this advice? And he said, and I don’t know if these were, if he was the first person to speak these words, but this is how these words came to me. He said from the comfort of his director’s chair, never stand when you can sit and never sit when you can lie down. And in this one moment, I knew that I was doing too much, uh, much too much. And, um, I’ve reminded myself and other people of that onset so often never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lay down. Thank you, David Fincher, for those words and for your incredible body of work. Thank you so much for, for all of it. 

Um, okay. We push onward moving straight ahead. Ooh, tough one. Okay. How do we, as a community shift our mindset from believing or from viewing, sorry, from viewing styles hierarchically to equally, how do we as a community shift our mindset from viewing styles hierarchically to equally? So there’s this built-in assumption in a lot of institutions and in the public perception that not all the answers created equal, that there is good dance and there’s bad dance and there’s meaningful dance, and there is not meaningful dance and or valuable dance or less valuable dance.  And, um, to this question, I will, I will suggest a starting point. I think that we shift our mindset a similar way that we shift our weight. And that is first by thinking I am going to shift my weight. Um, and then of course, by doing it, I think I will shift my weight to my left foot. I start by moving my hip. I then move my knee. And then, um, all of a sudden bringing my weight off of my right foot in a way from the microphone onto my left foot. But I started by thinking I would like to shift my weight and then I do it one tiny micro adjustment at a time. I think that’s how an individual shifts their mindset. And I think that that’s how a community must shift their mindset as well. And that is starting with individuals. I think communities are made up of individuals. So if an individual decides I would like to shift my mindset and then they shift their mindset and then they converse with other individuals, perhaps encourage other individuals to shift their mindset as well. That is how big change happens with small adjustments. 

Okay. Moving forward. Where are we? Uh, ha uh, Michelle Latimer dance academy, alumni shows up in the Q and A nice, super shout out Michelle. Oh, you have to come on the podcast. This is going to happen. Okay. An MLDA alum asks what was LA like when I moved there. And I think I might have to do a full podcast episode on exactly this like a walk down memory lane. It was awesome. It was different. And it was the same as it is now. It was all of that. It was awesome. It was awful. I, my apartment had cockroaches. I totaled my car and my first year out here, it was hot. There was great dance class. There were parties. I mean, it was a ball. It was, it was awesome. We’re going to put that in a parking lot and come back to it for sure. 

Okay. This last question was not submitted on the gram, but I have had two friends reach out in the last month. Hi, Lena. Hi, Courtney. Asking if I have any advice for agency interviews, like what do you do? And what do you say when an agency shows interest and you set up an interview and you really, really, really don’t want to mess it up now? I don’t think my two friends are alone in this. So I will share the advice that I gave to them. And that is this most people when sitting on the other side of the zoom screen or on the other side of a table, from an agent or, or a potential employer, if we want to zoom out and consider all professional interviews, um, most people really get caught up in trying to sell themselves in this particular instance where you are looking for an agent’s representation. Remember that this relationship goes both ways. You want to walk away feeling like you just got the best car on the lot. And so do they, so ask them questions, ask about the features of their business, know that you are great and find out how great they are. Also, if you don’t already know, try to find out who will be in that meeting. You’ve probably heard the saying, know your audience. I think in this case, and in many cases, it’s very helpful to a few more things, ask questions in general. I think questions are good, especially questions that reveal how much, you know, not how much you don’t know. You might ask. For example, how many castings are going out for people with your look and skillset? You could ask what commission they take my guess is that it’s 10%. It should be. If it’s higher, you might ask why you could ask them to explain their ideal client. Oh, and you should probably be prepared with what you do not like about your current situation, especially if your current situation includes an agent. I think it’s really important to let people know what works well for you and what you’re looking for. Have an idea of the work that you want to be doing. Have a few names in mind of people that you’d like to work with. Absolutely know your strengths and areas in which you would like to improve and be yourself. Isn’t that just the pits. When tell you to do that, when you’re like, what’s the answer? How do I do this? Right? And they’re like, by being yourself and you’re like, dang, what have I been doing for 25 years? How do I not know how to be myself? You do. You do know how to be yourself. You’ve been doing it for a long time. And I’m telling you right now, yourself is enough. Sit down, be a human talk to a human, be yourself and find out who they are. And if it is a good fit, it will fit. And it will be if it isn’t, that doesn’t mean you’re bad. Just keep on trucking. All right. My friends, I thought we’d finished this episode out with a burnout round. Um, these are the short and fast questions that came through the Q and A that actually really made me giggle and kind of have deep thoughts. Um, but I tried to not answer them until this moment. I want to really truly give the visceral response here. So in this moment, favorite dance move, uh, pas de bourses, least favorite dance move, easy. One C jump hate them. Never can’t won’t don’t want to ever do that step ever again. How many combos have I done?  Oh, God hundreds, hundreds and hunt maybe is 1500, two thousand?. 1500? Maybe. I don’t know, but I do know that every time I get in the car and drive to a destination that is more than five minutes away. I hear a song that I have either danced to or choreographed to do. So that’s that? Oh, and PS these are mostly all these in classic rock radio stations. So take that for what it’s worth. Okay. Favorite movie. Ooh, impossible. But it would be the Lord of the Rings trilogy. If you let me pick three favorite show right now and why easy Ted Lasso, because it is evidence that you don’t have to be manipulative to be great. And that obscure musical theater references make life better. Um, okay. Final question. What is moving me right now? The answer to that question right now is time.  I have got to go. I’m late for a grill and, um, I love you all so much. Thank you for your thoughtful questions. Keep them coming. And of course, keep it funky. Ooh, wait, wait, wait. One more thing.

This is important. We are making the first ever words that move me community production. It is a film. It is called Eight counts. Subtitle. The words that movie, thanks for the subtitle. Courtney Darlington, super shout out. Um, and if you want to be a part of making this movie, which is a community collaboration made by the words that move me community members, then you’ve got to join the community. Um, the community is a subscription membership. I will link to the membership website in the show notes to this episode, whoa. In the show notes website, webisode time, Dana breathe. I’ve got time. Where was I? Membership website will be in the show notes.  Um, memberships start as low as $3 per month. But if you ask me the real value comes with the top tiers, I’ll be totally honest. Y’all it is not about making a movie together. That is going to be so fun. This is about information and support so that you can be making work that you really want to be doing. Now we can do that work together and we can do that work apart. You can continue listening to the podcast. This is great, but to be a part of this collaborative film making process, you do need to be a member of the community. Um, if you join now in the month of October and don’t like it, if you’re like, Nope, this is not for me. This is not the value I was looking for. I will give you your money back. Yep. All of it.  Well, all of it that you gave to me for this membership, I do not have the funds to give you all of your money back from all of the things for all of the time. But I believe in the community. I love what we are doing. I love all of you community members. Um, and if, if you are not part of the wisdom com please do join us. I think you will love it. And I’m excited to see you over there. Link in the show notes, see you soon. Um, now you can go keep it funky. Talk to you later. 

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 and review because your words move me too. Number two, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops and so much more. All right. That’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye. 

Ep. #91 The Club- Are You In or Are You Out?

Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #91 The Club- Are You In or Are You Out?
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This may be the first time we really dig into the subject of status and power dynamics on the podcast! FUN!!!  In this episode,  insiders and outsiders are under the microscope, and we approach the subject from the position of moving into a new role or industry AND I’ll point out how this power dynamic can shift during the course of ONE audition , or pitch meeting.  I hope that after listening to this episode, you focus less on meeting the dress code/ getting on the guest list/ paying the cover.  I hope this inspires you to become the VIP that you are and make the work that others want to be in on.

Quick Links:

Re Listen to Episode 75 with Smac: https://www.thedanawilson.com/podcast/ep-75-being-creative-idiots-with-smac-mccreanor

Transcription:

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 Words that Move Me. I’m Dana. I am so glad that you are here. Um, if you have been listening to these episodes in chronological order, then, you know, I spent some time at home in Colorado recently, and while I was there, I got to cash in on some way overdue quality time with my nieces, seven and almost four years old. And holy smokes, they’re the most special we got to play and cook and, um, watch some movies. Why is it now when I’m trying to make this sound beautiful and interesting that I cannot recall a single artful or exciting thing that we did. Everything we did was artful and exciting, including watch a couple of movies targeted towards their age bracket. One of them was Bigfoot Family. Don’t know if you’ve heard of this film, Bigfoot family and Mitchell’s versus machines. I can’t recall if it was Mitchell’s versus machines or Mitchell’s versus The machines. I actually did not double-check the titles of said films before stepping into the booth. But I do know, and I can tell you that the heroes of these films, both of them are young people with the capacity to edit video. These two heroes are like fully in their cartoon world editing in cartoon premiere pro, and they’re like dragging and dropping effects and adding the star wipe and adding, you know, like doing premiere pro, like I’m looking at the premiere pro timeline, but I’m looking at a cartoon. It was wild. I’m just kind of marveling at that because the heroes of the movies that I watched growing up spent time in malls, like at the mall and the heroes of these films spend time in premiere pro. It was fascinating me so way to go people, making family content and normalizing, making things over consuming things. Um, perhaps this isn’t a deliberate thing. Perhaps they did some market testing and found that, Hey, you know what, everybody, between 12 and 16 is a content creator these days. So we’re just making where the audience is wanting is possible, but it was just, I was moved by that. So hats off, good job people making family content. I should really be going to get on that. Definitely going to get on that. Anyways, I digress, while watching Mitchell’s versus machines, the machines, whatever it is we’re going to call it M versus M the lead character, a teenage girl on her way into film school says I’ve always felt a little different than everyone else. So I did what any other outsider would do and made weird art. And that reminded me of a topic that I have been meaning to dig into on the podcast. And that is the notion of insiders and outsiders. We’re going to save the notion of quote, weird and weird art. For another time today, we are talking about status. We’ll talk about that from the position of moving into a new role or industry. And I will point out how this power dynamic can shift during the course of one audition or pitch meeting or treatment. I think this is the first time I’ve really addressed status and like this type of power dynamic on the podcast. And I am thrilled to dive in, but first wins. Hey, today I am celebrating such a massive win. My friend, oh, I am still smiling about this one. Just chuckling here, standing alone by myself. My win is that I was invited to the Quest Crew family Dimsum a few days ago. I had a play date scheduled with, uh, our dear friend Smac from episoode question, mark, wait for it.  Yes. Episode 75, confirmed. And Smac’s boyfriend Ryan is a member of quest crew. And so Smac extended the invitation in my direction to join the quest crew as their first ever special guest at a family brunch. I called it brunch, which is basically dim sum for the record. This was my first experience with dim sum. And my first experience with quest grew as a unit in one sitting, we can call it a sitting cause we were sitting down for the most part, the actual win, the win-win, the big win of this was that we had a group share a one by one, share. Everybody had everybody at the table, stood up one at a time and had to contribute a kindness in my direction, a kind sentence or two about me. And that sentence had to be danced in the vocabulary of my favorite style, which is locking to make matters more interesting, certainly more laughable. We were not able to repeat moves. Now there are 11 people at the table and, um, barely more than 11 moves in the vocabulary of locking. I am grossly overstating obviously, but I mean, you got your wrist roll. You got your Sam Point, you got your, uh, Stop and Go. You got your Scooby-Doo, you got your School Bot. You got what else? We got, obviously, an Up lock. You got your lock lock. You’ve got, I mean, I’m going to hate myself later, but I think like, I think I’m out, right? So 11 people making up little solo, kindnesses, kindness dances, and throwing them in my direction. Um, I had to throw one at myself too, which just imagine what that looks like all in the middle of a dim sum. Whoa, dim sum restaurant in Alhambra best dimsum of my life. And that’s not just because it was the only, but simply because it was the best I am floored. I’m still smiling. Now you go talk to me about the kind of dance exchanges in your world. Tell me what’s going well, what have you eaten that you loved? You could even celebrate a win after having eaten something that you don’t love. And now you know that you don’t love that. And that can be a win as well. I know it’s kind of a stretch, but you know, I’m just, I’m extending that kindness to you. You can put that as a win. They’re willing to bet. You know what? I digress. Roll the music.  

Congratulations. I am so happy for you and I am so chatty, I suppose my win should have been huge successes with my voice pathologist who has been helping me tremendously. I think I could get better about breathing more and talking less with that said before we get into the episode, I need to make not one but two prefaces. Prefaces number one, the word cool will be used a lot. In this episode, you may experience semantic satiation, shout out Ted lasso. A semantic satiation is when a word is used so much that it begins to lose its meaning. Cool. Cool, cool, cool, cool, cool. I actually think it would be very interesting to live in a world where cool has no meaning. I’m giving you this warning because if you happen to be listening to this episode at a party, which you might and you are of legal age, you might choose to play a drinking game and have a, a sip or a shot. Anytime you hear the word cool. You might even decide to have a party just so that you can do that. I support you, but I would prefer that you do something more productive, like maybe 10 push-ups or crunches or stanzas of poetry every time I say cool. Um, or you could simply listen and let cool wash away into meaninglessness. That’s preface number one. Preface number two is that I don’t actually believe that there is a quote unquote cool kids club. I don’t believe there is any single inner sanctum of people in the entertainment industry. I don’t even think that there are many cool kid clubs. I simply think people like to work with their friends, people that you know, people that you know, you have shared values with and people whose way of operating is similar to your own. That said for the next several minutes, I will be talking about clubs, the cool kids club. And I’m just telling you right now, before I do that, that I don’t think they exist. However, this metaphor, this thought in my head might be a useful device. I really hope that it is true story. This is not a third preface, by the way, this is just an intermission before the first act. I do not love clubs, never have. Even in my prime club going age, I did not like going to clubs. I would much prefer a house party, a barbecue, any place with a loud boombox play in the jams that doesn’t involve, like number one, a cover charge, number two, a line to get in, number three, like bass that is so low. I can feel it in my knee caps, um, or a dress code. So there that’s, I think that’s probably pretty much, oh, also like a $13 drink. That’s watered down. Not a fan.So Bing, Bing, which is big bang, bang. I don’t like clubs moving right along into the first act. If the cool kids club was actually a club, you would probably find yourself waiting in a line to get in. You would probably wind up paying a cover unless you’re on some sort of list. You might possibly make your way to a VIP section. And then if all goes, well, eventually you go home. You go to bed and you wake up the next day in this analogy, in this metaphor, I’m going to start by making a comparison between the rules and cost of entry to this club, to the rules and cost of entry to quote unquote, the industry or like the cool kids part of the industry.  I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I have witnessed in certain circles. It is truly as simple as wearing cool sneakers or simply having cool stuff to be welcomed in to the inner sanctum. The, the king of cool might actually talk to you because you’re wearing cool shoes or have a cool watch or you’re driving a cool car or using a cool purse or in my case, a cool backpack. Dammit. I love good backpack. And if you have a good, if you have a good backpack, chances are, I will talk to you about it. I’m not saying I’m the king of cool. Let’s back up. Do I actually think this is cool? Do I think it’s cool that you, you might evaluate someone’s worth or worthiness based on material possessions? Do I condone this type of behavior? No. Duh, not really. No, but have I seen it happen?  Yes. Have I considered actually paying the cost of cool sneakers or a watch or you know, something else material simply to ease my way in? Yes, absolutely. Is that wrong? No, I don’t think so. I think it’s, I think it’s neutral and sometimes it’s worth the cost of sneakers to have a zero friction entry point to the people and places that are interesting to you. However, I will say this buying the cool shoes, car, watch backpack, house, yacht. I think you see where I’m going with. This is a very slippery and costly slope. It’s a slippery slope. It’s an in slippery slope that very well may lead you to an unhappy life at, at worst at best. Maybe walking around in shoes that aren’t that comfortable. Let’s put the metaphor aside. You can look the part into the club, but I don’t know that that’s do you see how I said metaphor side? You can look the part and get in to get into the group or to get into conversation, but looking the part won’t last. If you don’t love it, if you can’t afford it and if you can’t live that way, right? Can you imagine having to abide by a dress code for the rest of your life? Hm, no. Thank you. No, thank you. Now let’s consider the guests list. Shall we? It’s possible that even without meeting the dress code and without paying a cover, you could get into a club simply by being on the list or being someone’s plus one. Now this part of the analogy is pretty self-explanatory entry by association or cool by association. Many of you have already benefited from this. I sure as hell know I have. Can you think of a time you got in somewhere on someone else’s arm, so to speak, or have you ever helped others to get in? How do you do that? What does that look like for you? And how do you feel when that happens? What is actually happening there? Are you grateful? Are you gracious? Are you extending a kindness? It’s something to think about that. I find fascinating. So on the, on the entry point, sometimes it’s being on the list.  

Sometimes it’s looking the part, but most of the time getting in comes down to paying the cover in real clubs. This is usually money, but in the metaphor, the cost of entry to me is either information or skill or both. And you’ll probably not get in without one or both of those, two things, information and skill. And that is what I want to talk about. That’s what I want to remind you of. That’s what I want to remind myself of. I think many people forget what they have to offer. They think the club is there to offer them something fun, access, excess, but the club would be nothing without people in it. In real life, people think that the in crowd, the top, you know, working person in their field can offer them something. Maybe it’s fun. Maybe it’s more access, usually it’s work. And that is what people focus on instead of focusing on what they, the outsider can offer the in crowd.  When I first made my way to LA and began my professional training. Yeah. I’ll call it professional training, like training to be a professional dancer versus training to be a good dancer. I think those are different things. I knew what I could offer in the character department. I knew what I could offer in the skill department, pretty broad, but general training in many different styles. Very good with counts, quick learner, great memory. I knew I was reliable. I knew I was sober. I wouldn’t be hung over or strung out. I knew I was at very least a little bit funny and a lot, a bit friendly. So I led with those qualities and I think those are the qualities that got my foot into the door, or like the entryway, like up to the coat check of this club, this metaphorical club. And then eventually I made it my job to really have information insights and like Intel straight up intelligence that other people didn’t have to remember things that other people didn’t remember to expose myself to things that other people didn’t expose themselves to. This means cross training. This means cross culturing. That might be in misuse of that word. And I think in the long game, it’s those qualities and skills that are probably what got me into the metaphorical VIP section. And what I’m learning now is that from both sides of that red rope, the grass is greener. On the other side, the inside of a VIP section looks a lot like any other corner of the club, except for usually there’s less room there. There’s people doing stuff. There’s a red rope around them. They look out into the masses at the movement, drawn to certain things, looking for certain things, looking at talented people, looking for entertainment, looking for beauty. Now the metaphor might get a little bit unsavory here, but I do think that that’s more or less what happens from inside the VIP. We look out on the other side, there’s people looking in wondering who’s there. How, how are they very important people what’s really going on in there anyways, what I’d like to hypothesize and someday prove is that anything you can do inside a VIP section, you can also do outside of a VIP section. I’d like to further extend that hypothesis to say anything you can do in the club, you can do outside the club. Do you see where I’m going with this? You can feel important. You can feel exclusive. You can do all of that with more space from outside, outside the red rope and outside the club walls, you can have fun. You can dance. You can network. You do not have to be in the cool club. And certainly not in the VIP section to make moves, to enjoy yourself. You can really truly feel important, feel exclusive and feel good about yourself with more space from outside. Here’s another interesting thing about the red rope. You have to leave the roped off area at some point to get anywhere else. You have to leave that VIP section to go pee, to get a drink that isn’t vodka and orange juice or cranberry juice. That’s sitting on your table to get fresh air. You have to leave the very important person place. And then what, once you’re outside of the red rope, are you only a minorly important person, a slightly important person, a regular person, hysterical to me that a person’s value would be determined by the placement of a red rope or a red wall. If I were to broaden that statement to include the dance sphere, the red rope, the inside or outside the club does not determine your importance unless you think it does. Let’s keep moving through this club analogy. We’re almost on the other side. I promise. Think about the day after you went to the club, you probably wore heels. Everyone listening probably wears heels to the club. Um, your feet probably hurt. You may be feeling hung over, but how do you feel? How do you feel the day after going to a club or a big event even do you feel awesome because you enjoyed yourself? Do you feel awesome because you had proximity to someone you think is special or famous or very important, do you feel awful because of lack of sleep or overindulgence in something, do you feel awful because perhaps you compromised a personal value to fit in or to get in true story. I have judged myself for pretending to enjoy myself at clubs. I have secretly hated on myself for singing along to lyrics of songs that I don’t like. And for dancing to music that I don’t like, I’ll be real. I have judged myself for judging the DJ. Where is this going? Sometimes? What looks like fun is not actually what’s happening. The person that you are looking at on the other side of that red rope is possibly dare. I say, probably punishing themselves in some way, moral of the story is you can punish yourself or praise yourself from inside the VIP, from outside the VIP or from outside the club entirely. And the beautiful news is that you get to decide, you get to decide if being in there is important to you. You get to decide how much you pay to get in. Or if you pay to get in, you can decide that meeting a dress code is totally okay with you. You can decide on committing to that now and changing your mind about that later.  This is simply another way to think about the in crowd to think about what you’re willing to exchange to get in and to think about how much power you have from outside. Now, I want to talk about this notion, this, this idea of power in the power dynamic in inside versus outside. You probably are assuming that the insider has more power and you’re probably right in most cases. So I want to talk not about that, but about this moment, this very, very quick moment, when that power dynamic switches, this happens in almost every successful audition or pitch, or even in making a treatment when asked to pitch or make a treatment for something or audition for something.  There is someone else who gets to decide whether you are allowed in to the job or not. There is an insider and you, the subject, the auditioner, the pitcher are outside trying to get in, but something beautiful can happen during an audition, during a pitch while making a treatment. And that is the shift where the outsider convinces the insider, that they are, what the insider wants to be in on that they are the person that can help the insider create an inside world that makes outsiders drool. And so within one hour, within one meeting within one PDF, an outsider who knows how to introduce themself, a person who knows how to inspire someone and a person who knows how to reassure someone. Those people have in, in my view, even more power than an insider because they are both. They are a person who is outside enough to see from a 30,000 foot perspective, not from a tiny confined space behind a red velvet rope, but from way out there, they can see they can operate freely.  They can move quickly. They don’t need to be stifled by the rules of the club. They have the ability to begin to switch or to remain the outsider. They have the best of both worlds, cheers, to being an outsider who can inspire the insiders to be more like outsiders. I now, now insider and outsider. Those are starting to lose their meaning. You know, it’s a great way to demystify a topic. Just have a podcast where you say nothing, except the topic like insider outsider, insider outsider, insider outsider, and then the topic will have lost meaning. And therefore, uh, the audience will have lost interest. I’m sorry if I lost you. Wrap it up Wilson. I hope that after listening to this podcast, you have less interest in meeting the dress code, getting on a guest list or paying the cover and more interest in knowing so deeply that what you do is incredible.  Whether it’s looked at, from the inside or from the outside, remember that the grass is always greener. Those inside the rope are looking outside. I hope that this episode has also reminded you that there is a generation of very young and assumingly capable young batch of artists on the come up. So let us not be concerned about whether or not we are in or out of the cool club and let us be concerned with our work, with our skills and with the information that we seek and the information that we share with that. My dear friends, I bid you ado, I’m going to go hit the club. Kidding. Not funny June is that it? But I said it there. I’m just going to let it rest. Really. I probably won’t see a club probably for the rest of the year. Maybe if you get me to a club, congratulations, there better be live music.  That’s all I’m saying. Get out into the world, get into a club somewhere, the club, your club. I really, I get myself into a hole. I just dig and dig, trying to make these wrap-ups. And here’s what I’m just, I’m just going to say it. Keep it funky. I mean it, oh, and holy smokes. How have I made it all the way through an episode where I say the club this many times and not mention the only club I remember enjoying myself in thoroughly deeply into the wee hours of the morning. FunkBox New York. I miss you. I miss you so much. I, you know what? I would buy a ticket to New York just to go to funk box. I said it, it might happen. Now. You have it. That is my word. That is my word funkbox. I’ll see you soon. Funky people. I’ll talk to you later bye!

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 and review because your words move me too. Number two, I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops and so much more. All right. That’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.