186. Zuce Morales: What is funk?

October 18, 2023 01:09:26
186. Zuce Morales: What is funk?
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
186. Zuce Morales: What is funk?

Oct 18 2023 | 01:09:26


Show Notes

Dana Wilson hosts Zuce Morales this week on the Words That Move Me Podcast! Zuce (a Locker, Whacker, and Popper and beyond) talks about the meaning of funk and what it was like to win her first Red Bull Dance Your Style battle. We also dig into what it means to be an immigrant woman leading the street dance community in Los Angeles. Get ready for the funk, the whole funk, and nothing but the funk.

Watch this episode on YouTube.

Show Notes:

Connect with Zuce on IG

Take Zuce’s Locking Classes at Millennium 

Take Zuce’s Whacking class at Movement Lifestyle 

Read Dana’s book (“The Funk Era and Beyond”)

Read Zuce's book ("Funk")

Listen to Arnel Calvario’s episode #171

Listen to Lilly Frias episode #71 

Listen to Jason Bonner’s episode #9 

Dance at Let’s Lock 

Dana’s “slocking” video

Listen to one of Zuce's class playlists


Zuce vs Good Gold 

Yoshei and Salah

FireLock vs Tiffany Jimini Bong

Greenteck & JRock vs Kid Boogie & Boogie Frantick

Lil Jiang vs Flo Master

Hurrikane vs Flo Master

For more DANA

For coaching with me, join the WTMM COMMUNITY 

To donate to WTMM through our Fiscal Sponsor, THE DANCE RESOURCE CENTER


Watch and Subscribe on YOUTUBE 

Stay connected with us on IG and TikTok 

Full Episode Transcript Here

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Episode Transcript

INTROHello. I'm Dana Wilson, and this is Words That Move Me. I move people. I choreograph movies, music videos, and TV shows. I dance for pop stars. I coach some really awesome people. But what I truly love is to learn, share, and inspire clarity and confidence in my fellow movers and shakers. So if you are navigating a creative career or simply want to live a little more funky and free, then settle in, because this is for you. Well, hello there. I'm Dana. This is words that move me. And I am stoked that you're here. Thank you for stopping by. San Diego. That is not my tagline. Do you know what my tagline is? My tagline is Keep it Funky, because I think funky is a great way to keep it. And, y'all, this episode is very, very funky, because my guest today is the fabulous and the oh so funky Zuce Morales. But before we get into that, let's celebrate some wins. We start every episode here with wins. Wins, big or small, are worthy of your airtime, and they are worthy of celebration. So I will kick us off. Today, I am celebrating wait for it, cleaning out a drunk. A drunk cleaning out a junk drawer. That's hard to say. It's in my hallway here. It's part of a manicurist's table. I have a manicurist table. It's a vintage. It's where I keep my junk. Anyways, it's just there. Anyways, every time I open this drawer, my heart races and my triangle of sadness, the space between my eyebrows furrows. And I'm just noticing, as I say, that this is a big and small win, because the drawer itself is small. But when I cleared it, I also cleared space for peace in my life. And every time I open that drawer, I will feel a lightness. So that's me. Now you go, what are you celebrating? What are you clearing space for in your world? Congratulations, my friend. Keep crushing. Keep clearing space, and keep winning. And also keep it funky. Okay, let's keep it moving. Today, I'm talking to Zuce Morales about funk, about community, and also about being a woman in a male dominated space, which is to say, most of the working world, but especially the street dance scene. She is so, so funky, so bright, and so generous for sharing her fantastic story with us today. So buckle up and enjoy the one and only Zuce Morales. Let's joushe. Our hair shall go. Okay, I'm joushed I Joushed. You're Zuce say welcome to the podcast. Oh, my God. Zuce Morales. Hi. Hi. I'm so excited. Thank you for being here. I also am excited. I just did an interview earlier this morning, and I was all over my guest, and I'm going to try not to be, but I am in awe of your talent. I am in love with the way that you teach and the way that you lead. I think you're a phenomenal dancer, an example of what women, especially funky women, can be. And I'm really, really honored to have you. Thank you for being here. I apologize in advance if I talk too much. Please don't. Don't apologize. Don't apologize. It's an honor to be here. Trust me. Thank you. Yes. Thank you so much for having me. It's my pleasure. Tradition on the podcast. And this, for some people, is the hardest part. Will you please introduce yourself? Tell us anything you would like us to know about you? Everything that I would like you to know. Well, obviously well, my name is Zuce Morales. I am from Mexico. Originally born and raised from now it's not so small. It's been growing, but it is a small town called Puebla, pretty much like two hours from Mexico City. I started dancing when I was eight years old because of my sister. She was the one yeah, she was the one who wanted to take jazz classes, and I was that chubby kid who didn't really want to exercise. But my mom took me into the classes, but I didn't like it. I didn't really like what we were doing there, but I stuck with it. Okay. And then I met my hip hop teacher when I was fifteen. Wait, so you stuck from eight to fifteen just on white knuckle grip, just by sticking it out? I would say eight to twelve. Okay. And then I left it. And then just by destiny, I met my hip hop teacher and I started dancing again. Fantastic. Yeah. What else? Love locking. I love whacking, I love any street dance. I love to learn. And I've been living in La for about eight years now. Okay. So that's about it. Yeah. I don't know exactly where I want to begin, but I am curious to hear in your relationship with street styles, because you dance many, and I love finding examples to show people that, no, you don't ever have to do one thing. I mean, it was encouraged in me. I started dance very young in a studio that offered ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, all the things. It was very encouraged that we be diverse in our skill set and style set. But I think a lot of people have a false notion that you have to do one thing. When I got to La. And started auditioning, it did seem to be a theme that people were looking for the best B boy or the best popper or the sexiest girl, or they wanted the % of the thing. Right. But I think that variety makes you the only thing. So why be a one% when you can be like a one%, like the only? And you really stand out as being a singular only type of person. When I think about the dance landscape in La. You stand alone. And so I want to know how you met. It sounds like you had an influential person like this hip hop teacher. But how did you meet locking in particular and did it rest on you different than other styles? Because when I met Locking, I was like, oh, that's it, I have to be good at this thing. I love this thing. And I wasn't at first, but I loved something about it. I found out eventually that it's joy, like the fact that it's very hard to dance locking and still be bombed. But yeah, that's what it was for me. How did you find Locking and how did it rest on you when you found it? Well, my story is very different from yours because I started with my hip hop teacher, actually, he lived here for thing like, two years, so he got introduced to other street dances. And I remember this class where he taught us a little bit of locking, and we didn't have any idea because in my hometown, there was no street dance. There was barely, like, just one hip hop class taught by him. The rest was just jazz, ballet, contemporary. So when he taught us locking and he started teaching us a foundation, I didn't really like it. Fascinating. I know several people that I really admire that do not like locking. Oh, no, that think it's like they think it's corny. I'm just like, you haven't seen it done well, exactly. But okay, carry on, carry on. That's the thing. It's not like that. He was not doing it well. He was just teaching it to music that I don't like dancing, locking to, and that is something that I discovered later. But back then, what I really liked was popping. Yeah, popping was like it was that thing that I was like, I really want to learn it. I love it. I love how it feels in my body. Because, again, ballet and back in the day, thankfully, today is different, it's changing. You had to be one certain type of body, and I've never fitted in that category. So when I started popping and doing hip hop, I was like, I felt strong. This is for me, I can be here. It feels good in my body. I just look strong. So I liked it. But locking, I started liking it when I started taking class here in La to different music. Funk, obviously, james Brown Prince, obviously, Michael Cool and the Gang, the Gap Band, like, all of that. That's what I was going to wear for this interview. I just forgot. I have a Cool and a gang shirt that I was going to wear for this. It says Fresh on the front, that's fire. You'll see it later. And I used to love that music because my mom, she would always play it. She would always play that type of music. And then also dancing, locking to new jet swing, that was like something that really woke up something in me that said, oh, locking is not just this corny dance where you have to act like the clown, or where you have to just be fake the happiness, or. Even where you have to be joyful. Exactly. There's shades of locking. Toni Basil, who I'm very fortunate to have learned most of what I know about locking, I know from her, believes that it is sexy. That is a sexy dance. And when she does it, an eighty year old woman, I'm like, oh, I see it. I see what you're talking about. There's a fire and an invitation behind the eyes that is about attraction. And when done well, it is very attractive. And if you see the original lockers, you see Don. Same with Shab, even fluky, even though his personality is very bubbly, his dance just speaks for itself. I think perhaps the sexiest thing about locking is the like it's an openness and yes, it does feel relative to popping, maybe a little bit more performative. Like you have a point that literally calls someone out. I'm like interacting with a person versus I think most of the time I see popping done. It's internal, like, almost for the self. And that's one of the things I think is intrinsic to me, is I love people. I don't think I would be into dance if it was robots dancing. I like dance because I like dancers, I like people sharing. And I think locking, just up until now, is the most directly communicative other than full blown social dances where you're in an embrace. I think locking is so communicative, so out there. Yeah, it's like I'm talking to you. I'm calling you out. You're calling me out. I'm seeing you. I'm seeing you seeing me. And I really love that about it. So for you, it was the music that helped you find the love of it. Is that still what it is right now? It was the music and it was like you said, the shades that Locking has, it's sexy, it's strong. One thing that I don't really believe in is that you cannot lock. If you're matt, though, I don't feel it in my body, at least me, I can't do that. But if I'm down and I start locking, I feel better. But I think what makes locking so special is the message that Don used to say all the was. It was him. It was just him. He was not a dancer. He was just a graphic artist who happened to have dancer friends and messed one step up and he created a whole new thing and he embraced it. That's what I love. He embraced his mistakes. He embraced everything that it was. And the message that he used to say all the time was, learn this dance, learn the foundation, and then be yourself. So I think that's what makes it so special. There is so much room for yeah, yeah. For the UNISS of it. I talked with Arnel about this on the podcast. I will link to that episode because it's such a good one. I agree. I love how much space there is for individuality. And when you look at the lockers, it's apparent not one. And that's a crew of this like, the original group of this style, and even within that, there's nothing but variety. No two are similar at all. So, yeah, it's about variety. I love that. Thank you for calling that out. And also for the emotional point. Way back in , at the beginning of time, I did a daily Instagram video challenge. So for a whole calendar year, for every day, I made an Instagram video. And one of them, I did sad locking. I called it slocking, and I will send it to you. Maybe I'll post a little bit of it in this video. It just basically consists of every time you Muscle Man, you take a big and then you break down to is. The saddest thing I've ever tasted. Very silly, dumb. But doing it, I was dying. I was laughing hysterically. It was so much fun. Okay, so that's how you found locking. But you originally loved popping. I love the way that you pop. I could watch you do it all day long. Still learning. Very much so. And for me, the first person to introduce me to popping was Poppin'pete. And when I watched him do it, I was like, Yep, can't do that. I'd like, look at my little muscle. And I remember him showing that it's not and I very much had this idea that it was about this. And he, I swear, can pop his earlobes. I did get kind of the fever for it. I remember sitting in school, really just trying to feel all my things working, and I didn't have the discipline for that style. But locking was different for me. It was like hook, line, and sinker. I was all about it. I had to do it. Okay, so you moved to La to dance. Question mark. Yes. And you went to school? I went to school for dance and. Choreography and composition and all the things. And yet when I take your class, the way you teach is through improvisation. Is that always part of your choreographic process to improvise or how do you find your choreography? I definitely didn't do that when I started teaching because I was aware that I was a beginner at teaching. I went to school for dance teaching and choreography and dance techniques. And also, the same person that I just mentioned, he started developing more teaching techniques back home in my hometown. So every time we would just meet and just talk about teaching. I owe a lot to him for helping me how to teach street dance. But I also learned a lot in college. But the choreography thing didn't really start like that because, again, I was aware that I don't know, maybe I'm sure that I was able to, but I was not so sure of myself because I needed more practice with teaching. Yeah. So before, I used to actually have drills, already built drills, go through that, freestyle, and then I would teach a combination that I previously made. Got it. Okay. With practice, you start noticing that you can create even more even faster and faster and faster. And then I started having great students at my current class at Millennium who would push me, and that would kind of want me to start digging, like, tapping into that. So it was when I got to Millennium, when I started doing the improvisation. Yeah. I'm telling you, and I understand what you the moment that you're explaining when your students encourage you is a moment that I love as a teacher. When I feel like, oh, the bar is being raised, I have to meet it, and then I have to level it up. And when you go off in class, when I see you get down, the class loses it. And I know you hear us lose it. And so whatever it was that you just did is what is now the combo versus whatever I did by myself in my living room is the combo. And I hope that you like it. Good luck. But, like, that real time, in person auditioning of the thing, making, doing the thing, feeling it right now in this outfit, in these shoes, on this floor to this song with these people, that's what happens. It's something that I really love about your class. Thank you. It's interesting. I didn't know that it wasn't always that way. Yeah. I mean, it makes it more intimate to me, just like you said, the reaction of the students, it's something that I love. It's energy when you teach, and when you're a teacher, it's not that you're expecting something from your students, but of course, you feed off the energy. Yeah. Collective. It's collective. Yeah. I have once, upon the advice of a dear friend of mine, Tony Testa, decided to wing it to go into a class on convention with no combo. And this was convention. I know that's a different thing. It's a different thing. But he did it all the time, and I just want to be like Tony when I grow up. So I was like, I'm going to do it. And I was like, I'll do it with the little kids, because really don't recommend not having a plan with a room full of to ten year olds. They ran me into the ground. It was terrible. I wouldn't recommend it. What I found was, like, especially with that age group, you really do have to have a plan absolutely. That has room to wiggle. And now that's my favorite age group to teach. Now, that was quite early on. It's my favorite age group to teach, because I think we're mentally the same age. I have been very fortunate in my ability to not have to grow up all the way in my career, choice play is a fundamental part of my creative process. I must be able to be silly. I must be able to have the idea that's, like, oh, wouldn't it be dumb if we just did like, eight wrist rolls in a row and then nothing, and then locked? Wouldn't it be dumb or wouldn't it be silly or wouldn't it be funny if that's how a lot of my creative choices or conversations start? And yeah, it's just a way, but I find with that age group, you can't have no plan, but having a plan that has space is really effective. Okay, I want to sidestep from teaching. We'll come back to it for a second, I think, because I read somewhere, so I think I know. Is it true that you won your first ever locking battle? It is, isn't it? Yeah, you punk. Okay. I have never battled, and I'm saying this right now on this podcast, I don't ever expect to win a locking battle, ever. Because although I love to lock, I don't think I would lead with, hi, I'm Dana. Like, I'm a locker. I would never dream of that. But this style happens to be my favorite mode of moving. It's really my favorite way to move. Possibly close second would be Marty Kudelka's movement, simply because it's in my DNA by this point. But anyways, back up to battling. How did you decide, number one, it's time for me to battle. I'm ready to battle. Because you met the style of dance before. You battled a while before, I'm imagining. Yeah. And it was the thing that you did by yourself or with a class and then how did you know? Like, oh, no, I'm ready, it's now. I was training under someone for a long time. Well, maybe it was like two years. Yeah, like two years. And then with a group of people as well. But I would always like, after class, book the studio space and just geek out and train. I love that. And I remember even Roberta from Debbie's, it was so often that she would see me just continuing to add the extra, spend my money in rentals to the point where she was like, just go in there, just go. Don't tell anybody. I owe a lot to her. This battle, it was a Red Bull dancer style. Yeah, I would say that it was the first time that I decided to do locking. I never felt ready, though. I remember I tried to enter a couple of battles with doing maybe Whacking or other stuff, and I didn't make it past prelims. But that was like the first battle that I was going to battle because we didn't do prelims. I just remember getting this email from Red Bull saying, like, hey, we're doing this project. It was the very first battle. That the first time, the first year that they were doing the dancer style. So they were like, hey, we just were trying this thing. I couldn't believe it because even the wording was like, we're just inviting the best resellers in La. And I was like, how do they know about me? Because I was just in my studio space doing just training. Kind of private. Yeah, it was very private. I used to post a couple of things, but then I found out that Tash. Shout out to Tash. I love her. She's like an inspiration for me and for a lot of lockers. An amazing woman, for sure. She was the one who referred me cool for the dancer style. And we didn't know each other that well, each other at the time or anything, so I was like, okay. And then I said yes because I was in my process of my visa for my one visa. And a Red Bull championship would look pretty good. Yeah, that would be amazing. So I was like, let's do it. And then I trained for like three months. I was not expecting anything. I was telling my family and my just if I make top eight, I'm happy. Because there was dancers like Yoda, who I love. Frantic Marie Poppins, Lily Frias, who's also Mexican and also podcast guest I will. Link to her episode because it's fantastic. Who else? Tony Rae, who had just won just Dubu at that time. Amazing people. It was in Avalon where Carnival used to happen. So I just remember I went in the first battle, I took it, and then I started noticing a pattern in the crowd and I was like, this is not we don't have three judges here. The crowd is the one who's judging. So I owe locking to that because it really made me perform. Your choice was to lock because of what you noticed people responding to locking. Was the style that I had trained more at that time. So I was like, I'm just going to lock and whack. Those were my two strongest. But I think that was a battle where I really showcased my locking because a lot of people didn't really know that I was training locking. It was very secret. Just you and Roberta and a few other people. Yeah, but just taking my hat off and switching it with the person in the crowd or getting a water bottle and trying pretend to sing, that was just locking. Yeah. I believe that locking is not just the moves. It's the essence of performing. Because locking performative. It's a show. It really is. It doesn't pretend to not be a show. Exactly. And you're bringing to mind. One of. My favorite battles to watch. Maybe there's not so much crowd participation. It's been a while, but Yoshi and Salah, I think it's from a long time ago. It's a deep cut now, maybe . I watched it all the time when I was really getting into locking. So maybe eight or nine, maybe. And she's unbelievable, but Salah is such a clown. He's a performer. He's a performer. Yes, he's a performer. He's not a clown. He's a performer. I mean, he is a clown, but he's a performer with no limits on what's cool or it wouldn't be funny if I did. He doesn't care if it's funny or cool. And the engagement not just with the audience, but with the music, his relationship to the music is unreal. And I think especially in locking, you have opportunity to have both this crazy intimacy with what's going on and intimacy with the people around you. Not to bring it back to popping again, but I cannot think of a dance other than maybe crumping and tap, which is literally making music where the dance and the music are that like it looks like that snare is coming from Pete. It looks like it's coming from his body. And I think in locking, it's just a symbiosis. It's like the dancer, the sound, the crowd. It makes this whole thing that I really just love. Can we just sit and talk about. All the things we love? I keep trying to talk about something. Else, but let's do it. It's not going to happen. Yeah. That Yoshi and Salah is the first time I saw people freestyling and being free with people, and I was like, whoa, the bravery. Because there's like, even in a freestyle, you have a set or you have certain moves, but the second you start involving other people, you don't know what's going to happen. Exactly. You have no idea what's going to happen. You lose control. You lose control. There's. So exciting. Another battle that I really like. I want to talk about all of them. Tell me all of the battles that I need. Tiffany Bong. Shout out to her. Yes. Amazing locker, amazing woman. She's like, not just Locker, she's just amazing dancer, an educator. So her and FireLock, that battle. Was I don't think I've seen this. It's really great. I'm a big Firelock fan as well. They both kill it, but it's locking. And I love Chi and I love Hurrikane and I love I don't know, it's been a while since I was on YouTube, like, watching battles, but I feel that moment right now. I've been dancing with Toni Basil a lot more. Oh, I love Last for the last three months, at least once a week. Nice. Yeah. And it's so good for me, it's good for her. But one of the things that I love about her is that she is not afraid of waiting until the circumstances are just right. Even if she told me, come over at eight, we'll dance, that doesn't mean we're in the studio getting down at eight. That means she lets me into the house and then she talks to me about this. If that's weird and takes some time to get the thing, and we'll wait until the studio is the right temperature and then we'll kind of boogie a little, play a different song. And then I'll change the song. And she's like, yeah, that do that one one more time. And then she'll say, OOH, have you seen this? And then we watch a video. And now she's on. I love that. So because of my time with her, I've been watching more videos and have been introduced. She's very interested in Whacking right now. So I am now introduced to Whacking and thinking, duh, where have I been? What the fuck was I doing? Because most of my funny Toni Basil story I might have told this before on the podcast. Sorry if this is redundant to my regulars, but I was over there once, long, long time ago, like, probably six years ago freestyling. And she was watching me, and she goes, what do you call that? And I was like, Ouch. That is embarrassing. I call it freestyle. What does it look like? And she was like, no, what style? Like, what do you call that style that you're doing? And I was like, oh, shit. I've been struggling with that for years. I don't know. Because, again, I'm from ballet, tap, jazz world. And I just kind of keep the moves that I like and listen real close to whatever the song tells me to do. And then I get imaginative and emotional and whatever. And she's like, what's the majority of your training? And I said, Jazz. Like, we took jazz class three days a week. Well, what we call jazz. Not vernacular jazz, but, like, technical jazz, dancer wearing leotards jazz. And she said, call it jazz plus. Your style is jazz plus. You tap, right? And I was like, yeah. And she's like, I can see it. You've got that and you have this and that and this and that. She's like, call it jazz plus. And I cannot believe with all the jazz and funk in my life, whacking is the center circle of that Ven diagram. It is funky as shit, and it is jazzy as shit. And I love those things. Why am I not whacking? Why? I'm going to be in your class. You're going to be like, Dana, enough. Stop it. With a verbal feedback. I'm a very verbal class taker. You've probably noticed by now. But I love as a teacher, I love hearing feedback. So as a student, I'm like, yes. One more time, please. Thank you. Love that. Yes. Ha. Like, I'm all the verbal. Does it bother you? No, Joy, it I love it. I'm the same I'm the same type of student. Well, because it's what I wish I had in class. Looking out to a room full of like is terrifying. Exactly. I don't want to do that to any person who's teaching me right now. The worst I learned that when I started teaching too, for sure. I remember a time that you took my class speaking of feedback and teaching, you took my class. At Genesis, we took a break to add a wrist roll, which is appropriate. So you were taking my class at Genesis. I was teaching either Boogie Wonderland or something else that required conversations about funk. And I asked the class, we need to talk about this. What is funk? Like, what is funk to you? Other than how I smell right now? Because I'm a little stressed. But that's an interesting component of it, like, funk and funk isn't there's a to it? Anyways, I asked the room, do you want to go to Auntie Higgins? Do ya? Do ya? Oh, my God. What is funk? Was the question that I posed to the room. And I loved the way you answered that question. Do you remember how you answered that question, or how would you answer it today? I always take this reference from this book. The name is Funk. So it says that funk is everything in the book. It kind of says something like Funk. It could be as high, like, super high, or it could be low. It could be down here, could be hot. Funk is hot, but it's also cool. Funk is really like girthy. It could be that type of sexiness. But it could also be very classy and sophisticated. So I think that's, like, funk is just it embraces a lot of things altogether. Yes. Which lines up beautifully with one of the books that I'm reading right now. It's called the Funk era, I think. Or the Funk era and beyond. I don't remember, but I think it's a textbook. It's a collection of essays. There's no one author. It's like, collection of writings on funk, and one of them cites an interview with George Clinton of Parliament and P Funk and Funkadelic and and George Clinton do the rest. He says that funk is whatever you need it to be in order to survive, which speaks to what you just said. You need it to be heat. It's heat. You need it to be cool. It's cool. You need it to be sexy. It's sexy. You need it to be funny. It's funny. And that really changes the way I approach moving period, like thinking of it as necessity instead of as my job, instead of as socially cool. Like, what do I need right now? And turn to funk for it. Reading that was hugely pivotal for me, and I love that. But I also love this idea that it's everything. It's anything you need it to be, but it's also truly everything. It could be everything. Yeah. Is it everywhere? Can you find it? Where do you find it? I think I've found it. I found it within myself. But I think every person can be funky if they want to. And I remember that I said this in your class. Funk is not just the music, genera or a dance to me. It's also an essence, because you can find a person in the street who walks. And you can be like, oh, that walk is funky, or the way a person can talk it's funky. They're adding something special to it. So I think every single person can be funky, even if they're not dancers or musicians. But definitely something that triggered that funk within me was the dance was walking and the music. Yeah, I think there are a lot of funky people in the world. I think there are a lot of really funky dancers in the world. I think there are far fewer funky leaders, like community leaders, people interested in the community. I think there are even okay, it would probably go like funky people, very broad, funky people who are great at teaching, less funky people who care about people beyond their moves and in their class is an even fewer, smaller number. And then the number of those people who are women is like, minuscule. Can you tell me what it is to you to be a woman in this dance, in this position of teaching, in this position of community leader? And as a woman, what is it like there? Does it feel lonely? Does it feel awesome? Does it. It'S not lonely mean I'm talking people my age because I do know a lot of oh, for sure. Oh, my God, Toni Basil would have slapped me so fast. No, I know a lot of women who inspired me to just keep going. Like Keely. Keely is one of them. Definitely Tiffany, who also did a lot of community work, obviously people like Tash, even Toni. I got the chance to go out to her house like a few times. And she's not a locker, but she is my Whacking teacher, Lorena, Lorena Valenzuela. She used to do a lot of community stuff. Like you've had great. Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. But when it comes to locking in people my age, I did feel lonely in the beginning, but excited because when I started teaching, I did notice that in the La. Area, there was something happening in Long Beach with my friends from Funktion Point Oni and Al, but not in La. So it felt exciting that I had the chance and the platform because I used to use my ML classes, just know, hey, I'm going to do a session this time. You should come over to downtown La. Let's do oh, we've got to talk about let's Lock. So did you start let's Lock before you started teaching at ML? It was at same time. Same time. Same time. And so the class at ML was like, let's talk about foundation and do choreography. How is that different from let's lock? Talk about. Let's lock for a second. Let's Lock. It came out as a way for me to give back to the dance because I saw it from this point of view. I'm a Mexican person, not black, who started teaching a black dance. So I definitely had the responsibility, first of all, to teach correctly and be honest with my students and let them know that I didn't know everything. Come. And that you are a student, which can be interesting or difficult to say from the perspective of being a teacher. Hi, I'm your teacher, and I'm a student. But also, Hi, I'm a visitor in this, huh? Yeah, exactly. I mean, all that talk about teaching and being honest with my students and just jumping into teaching, it comes from Tash. She was the one who told me, we need a person like you, so La needs somebody like you. I still have that voice note saved, and I listen to it every once in a while because I was so scared. I was so scared about teaching. So let's lock him. It happened just as I need to do something for the community here. I love this dance so much that I wanted other people who maybe didn't really have the resources, the economic resources to pay for a class in ML, or maybe who had to commute for a long way from La. So it came out as a way for me to connect and do something else, do more for the dance. So ML was Choreo foundation, even freestyle, and then let's lock. It was just a space for people to really learn from zero, because I had a lot of people who didn't know anything, at least in dance studios, like in our Hollywood, people were dancers. They're professional dancers. Maybe they don't know locking, but they know how to count. And eights, they can't move, so they can learn faster. But you go to downtown La, and then you have this kid who doesn't really know how to dance, so it was teaching them from zero. And I do remember that in a few sessions, I had one person just showing up, and I was like, It's okay, we're dancing. And I owe a lot of that to Scramble Lock, too, because I remember I had this talk with him. He reached out to me because he saw that I was starting to do sessions and he just told me, I just want to talk to you because I want to be honest with you and tell you that you may encounter a few things. To be offered that insight from somebody who's been there and done it and learned it the hard way and is saying, oh, hey, I know some of the hurdles that are out ahead of you. Can I tell you this? And this? And this is going to help with that one, and then with that one, you got to do this. What a gift. Yes. And then you see the community that they have over there, and it was like, of course I'm going to take advice from him. And obviously, I knew about Scramble way before that. But, yeah, we had this talk, and he just told me, even if one person shows up, you need to show up even if no one shows up, you still need to show up because that's going to be consistency. And people, they appreciate consistency. So that session is going to start growing and growing and growing and growing. And it did. I remember the very last session that we had before COVID we had like people in there. I love I love this. And your class at Millennium has turned into two classes now. Yes, I want to talk about that a little bit because I know from a teacher's perspective, having an all levels class is thrilling. I really love it. I think it's important to offer all levels classes in all styles because simply on principle, an advanced dancer needs to know that they can humble down and they need to occasionally to do some one oh one type of stuff. And also to put one oh one type of dancers in a room with advanced dancers is so wildly inspiring to see what is possible. It's so cool. So I love those spaces. And it can also be really challenging as a teacher to want to be moving forward with the students who are progressing. But to always have first timers in the room means that you have to always start back at zero, especially when you're teaching a style of dance, such as locking that requires an introduction to the foundation all of the time. Absolutely. So how did you know you had reached a point when you needed to split and have a beginner's class and have a or actually, how is it that you categorize your classes? Which one is which and how do you distinguish them? I would say that the foundation class is just that it could be for beginners. But an advanced person, and this is something I strongly believe in, is even though you're advanced, you should always go. Back to the foundation % because you. Can get lost in the sauce all the time. Yeah, I have a new habit in my pace and in my tags where I'm punching all of a sudden all of a sudden I don't use my wrists all of a sudden. Toni Basil called it out. She was like, didn't love it. And I think it became from getting so advanced that I started dancing faster. And when you go faster, I just started and then all of a sudden, I never even when it was slow, I didn't let this go. So it's an interesting yes, always. Always something to be learned from going back to basics. So is that your Saturday class? That's my Saturday. Your fundamentals one? Yes. Okay, fantastic. I also need to be there. I want to be training. If could I just someone pay me to train? I know I want to be taking. Class all the time. It would be amazing. Do you still train or what are your favorite genres to train in? Also, you're a fitness person, right? You're loving to cross train. I wouldn't say I'm a fitness person. But I do like to work out. Yes. Why? I just think it's necessary. I love that as an answer because it's necessary. I love feeling strong. Yes, I work out because I like the feeling of feeling strong. Ever since my first tour. Actually was very fortunate that the person that trained Justin, his name is Jason Bonner, who's also a podcast guest, was very generous with his time and wasn't there just for Justin. I mean, certainly he prioritized Justin's time, but he would train anyone that would show up at the gym. And I learned so much. And my dancing improved and my stamina, my endurance, my joints stopped hurting because my muscles were stronger. I really love a cross training. Is there any other thing that you cross train at outside of dance? Not really. It's just the gym and cardio and stuff like that. But for sure I started doing it out of necessity. Were you hurting? I was hurting. And then I realized that the stronger you are, your dance, it shows, especially in locking where we have to do splits. And if you want to do a knee drop, you need to control that fall. You need to understand your body. So it really helped me for body consciousness, but I think that's pretty much it. And now it's like a habit because it makes me feel good too. Totally. There is an actual chemical reaction, like endorphins make you happy. Yeah. Period. When we're talking about battling and your decision to do the Red Bull thing, part of it was also necessity. Right? Like you said, I need a visa. I need credits or credibility or whatever the word is that you would offer our government that says I need to be here. And I think that kind of answers the question of, like, how did you know you were ready for that? But in general, in life, what is it that you listen to? How do you make decisions? How do you know when it's time to do a certain thing? Are you put it out there to the world? Are you a listen to the gut? Are you a talk to another source? What helps you navigate? I like that question. I think it's very internal and also external with whatever you believe in. I was raised as Catholic, but then started noticing that I don't believe in church like that. I was raised this way, started to notice I don't believe. I do believe there's something out there because I know there is. And even if it's your purpose or your destiny that is taking you to different paths in life, whatever it is, I think it's that connection with whatever source there is. And I try to trust because I'm also very stubborn when it comes to new things. As any human being, whatever you don't know, it could be scary. Right? But I've learned to understand and to identify those key moments in life where I need to do things now. When the opportunity just shows, it's okay. You got to show up time. Yeah. It won't all be given. There is a moment where you have. To go get yeah, I think it is natural. I remember even recently when I started judging, same thing. I remember I got offered to judge, like it was a little bit before COVID and I said no because I was not ready, I didn't feel ready. I was teaching for maybe like a year or two and I was like, I can't be judging yet. And it was a knowing self consciousness. And also because I was not battling as much and stuff like that. For me, I think you do need to earn that respect. And that comes from the street dance. World comes from everywhere. The idea of earn respect is everywhere. With industry and then COVID hit. So I was like, well, there you go. Okay, so I will continue to adapt. And years later I get the same offer. And then I was like, okay, let's try it also because I have other plans now, like green card stuff and all the things. And even though I just got my second visa and I have three years, I need to start working on other stuff. And then started judging more people starts coming up to me. So that's when I know, like, okay, now I have something to offer and now I can have more of a vision, I've seen more dancers, I have more a broader idea of what I'm looking for. So that's when I started judging. It's the same thing with teaching. I think that's why I reached out to many people to ask for their opinions. Even Ray Basa, actually shout out to him because I started teaching because of Ray. Did you really? He was the one who told me, maybe you can start subbing at ML because I know that you know the fundamentals and I would really like to learn and DA DA DA DA. What year did you start teaching at ML? I started in twenty nineteen. Was that after Hilty and Bosch did a short stint there? Yes, they started their class and then they left. And then they left it to Leo. Yes. And then Leo, I think he went on tour. Yeah. And that when you bought it. Amazing. Yeah. I really loved I think that was my first, other than when I met Locking, which I think was in , maybe. And I was dancing with Basil at her house. Or I would take Lockadelics class at Millennium. Amazing. And Suga Pop would teach at Old Evolution. Amazing. Yeah. And that was it. And then I had only ever seen Hilty and Bosch on YouTube. Them getting to ML and seeing that happen in person was insane. And I knew, I was like, you guys are going to make Locking happen for La. I was like, this is it. And I went to their first class, and there was like seven people there. And I was like, La, where are you at? Where are you? But of course, they built like you said, it really doesn't matter who you are or what you've done, but there is a period of showing consistency and showing your investment to where people will also say, okay, then, yes, I invest in you. You invest in this. I invest in you. We have this relationship. And so I'm so glad that that spot continued to foster, because now I look at La and I look at your class and I'm like, yo, there's funky people all over the place. This is so nice. I really am, too. That was the goal when I started teaching. You built a thing, you planted a seed that grew. It's true. It's true. But not to say that there was nothing and that there were no people fostering growth, but you definitely continued and are continuing to show up, and it's a very cool thing to watch happen. That was the goal when I started teaching. And just aside from I'm going to put that in pause for a little bit. Hilty and Bosch was the first class that I took when I came to La in twenty fifteen because they were teaching a workshop, and I saw that like a pop up. It was a pop up workshop. I saw that. I was like, I need to be there. I need to be there. I took that class. That's where I met Tiffany, David, like, everybody. I didn't even know who they were, but I have a picture with them because they were just so nice. Yes, that was the first class that I took in La. And then the fact that I took over that class years later, full circle, wow, that's gorgeous. But yeah, when I started teaching, the goal was not just to be me, the teacher. So now I'm really happy to say that nowadays I do have my two slots at Millennium, and that's great. But I started teaching at Roots, and it kind of became a little difficult and I left the class, but I left it to two of my friends. So now there's Al and my friend from Russia, Sam, who's teaching that class, who are teaching that class. Same with off stage. It was a drive. It was really good to teach there, but at the same time, it was risky and it was just a lot. Orange county. Yeah. So to drive there on a Friday, to get there at p.m., it was a two hour drive. So I was like, you know what? I'm starting my second class at Millennium, so I'm going to leave this. Taper that out. Taper that out. So now there's like other classes in La. That it is reality. I started those lots, but now other people are teaching. Isn't that the greatest? It's growing. And let's lock. We united. Let's lock with function point and we created this new session called La Locking Lab. Okay. Which is really cool because now I feel like I don't have to be there all the time in order for things to happen. There's this other guy, his name is Al who is really involved in the community. They already performed with the Grave Renators for another event. They're doing performances. A few of my students are performing with them. We still have the sessions. We might do them biweekly nice next year, but it's not like I'm there hovering now. I can be like, you know what, maybe I can start stepping away a little bit. Of course I'm still present it's. Stepping away with love and knowing that. Trusting. And I have an amazing student. I'm sure you've met her, Sarah. Yeah. She started locking with me and now she's battling. She's battling with she's learning with Tash. She's learning from the hood lockers. And I can't wait to have her as my sub for my classes, start her own. Just it's going to be so emotional. I'm getting emotional. And I'm also hearing in myself that I will battle someday. Absolutely. Oh my God. We are planning on creating an event like that's, a project that I want to have, like a personal project because I really have a lot of ideas. Of course I'm open for help from the La locking left people, but that's something I really want to organize. Just a know of workshops and conferences, a funk party, and then just finish with a cute battle, but bring in like a life band. Need to battle at a cute battle. I will be battling at the cute battle. That's the culture that I just want to keep. You tell me how I can help. This is fantastic. Supporting and sharing. Yes. What's your kind of ideal time? When do you see this happening? Maybe around May, hopefully we'll see. Like I said, I'm looking at everything like this and be like, oh, there's more people here. There's other people here. Okay. Maybe there's like thirty lockers or thirty aspiring lockers in La. Now we can host something because it's been something that has been on my mind since I started teaching. But then you have a session of five people and then it's like, yeah. No, maybe we wait, maybe we wait, maybe we wait. So I just want to have a big base in La. And then have people from overseas come over. That will be the goal. But something else that I give credit to, the gray one eight as well, is that now freestyle session has a locking category again. Yeah. By itself. Come on. Last year it was locking and whacking together. This year they have their own category. So that makes me hopeful that this is growing and that just more women are getting involved in locking because yes, we need it. Yes. I don't want to put anything out there, but I do believe that a lot of women are very conscious and aware and we need more people like that in the community, more community leaders who are selfless and just invested in the dance and not really think about themselves and what can I get from this? So I think yeah, Sarah Akari, who is also from Japan, definitely, obviously the people who has been involved. Tiffany Tash, like, all of them. We need women like that. Let's go. I'm fucking showing up. It's happening. I think it's happening. I know that it is. I see it, I feel it. It's very exciting. I can't wait for this to happen. Yes. Give me the word. I will help in any way that I can. For sure. Okay, are you ready for a final burnout round? I'm calling it Wrist roll with it. We have to go fast. Okay. I'm very excited about this one. I know we kind of very quickly brush on it, but I do want you to close your eyes, zoom out, think about it. Your favorite battles go whether they're on YouTube or not, whether you were involved or not. Favorite battles? Tiffany Bong and it's not in order, but just overall. Tiffany bong and Hurrikane. Not HurriKane. Sorry. FireLock. There we go. Oh, the one you mentioned. Yes. Kid boogie and Boogie Frantic against Jrock and GreenTech that battle is really good. What was that? At freestyle session. Okay, we'll find it. Locking flow master. I don't remember who he battled against. I think it's a girl from Japan, if I'm not mistaken, or Korea. But it's in summer. Dance forever. You can just look for Flomaster. Summer dance forever. And he also has another battle against Hurrikane. Okay, big fan. That big fan. Incredible. Great. I think those are the ones that I remember. What do you tell yourself before you battle? What are the last words that go through your head? Have fun. Nice. What's your favorite move? I like wrist rolls. Me too. And the pace? Well, the keeping time. I love all of the locking vocabulary. I don't think I could choose, but. There'S some about giving yourself five that. Also feels very good. OOH. Is there a song that is so roasty, that is like off limits to you? A song that's so good that you would never touch it? I would never touch it, yeah. Or have never touched, maybe is something that is in your playlist. It's like, oh, someday, someday I'm going to let it have it. That's a good question. I don't think so. For me. For a long time, I avoided resisted superstition by Stevie Wonder. I eventually did make a combo to it, which I like, but it's not perfect because I mean, woof, such good music. I really love it. So you don't know you don't think you have one? I don't think so. No. I do have favorite, like a song that makes me want to move all the time but not what is it? Jam by Michael Jackson. Yes. Also, would you be willing to share are you a Spotify or an Apple person? Apple. Okay. Would you be willing to share one of your class playlists? Because every time I come into your class and we dance to different songs and we try the combo to different pieces of music, I'm always like, I love their song. And then the next song, like, this song is great. We'll share it with this episode. That'd be awesome. Okay. If you could do a duet with anyone, living or dead, who would it be? I would love well, first of all, Don. Come on. Don Campbell. I know. And maybe Poppin Taco. Poppin Taco for sure. Recently, I've been learning a lot from Kid Boogie and know, like, them three. And I don't know if you know Dallas, she was a whacker, okay? But I've seen videos of her, and she's amazing. Just strong, powerful woman who didn't really care or she didn't really give shit. I love that there is something about that I know that caring about what other people think has served me well. It helped me understand respect for my dance teachers. It helped me learn new skills. It helped me win dance competitions or do well at auditions. But caring about what other people think of me has served me well. But one of my favorite, like one of my most attractive qualities in artists in general, not just dancers, is the not giving a fuckness. That always looks so cool to me. Maybe it's because I'm not as good at it. I'm good at caring. I'm less good at not caring. But it's interesting you bring that up. Also, you just putting it out there. It's not just because I'm here, but since you started taking my class and I started finding out about you and then me taking your class, and you're an amazing educator, too. Thank you. You're definitely in my list. And as a woman, it's a plus. Like, sooner than later. Yeah. Let's go this fall, right now. Okay. Leave town on Sunday, get back on Monday. I'll call you on Tuesday. Let's do it. Okay. I'm very excited. I don't remember what I was going to say. She's flattered. Women who made you move. You've mentioned your mentor a couple of times, and we didn't talk much about today, but you've had several teachers who have guided you both by what to do and what not to do. But I would love to hear about some of the women who have shaped your life. Not even just your dance, but more broad. Well, my life my mom, obviously. First of all, she's an inspiration for me. She's taught me to be determined and persistent. Same as my dad. Right, but we're talking women, so my mom, my sister, too, she's very strong minded, but she knows how to do things. You know how to get things done, for sure. So. I have really two really great examples. Dance wise, I would say Lore, my friend Lorena, for sure. She's my sister, and I owe a lot to her too. Did she used to teach at ML also? Yes. I've taken her class before and unfortunately, I would just get caught in watching. I'm just like, I could watch you dance all the time and I'm like, oh, active participant. Let's. Yeah, she's one. And actually, well, me and Honda, we used to be her assistants, so we're taking over her slot at new ML. Full circle again. Fantastic. It was the same time, eight fifteen to nine forty fife, that was her slot. And now me and Hondo, we're going to do our best to wait to honor her and honor the dance as well. I can't wait. Back to women. Yes. Tash for sure. Love her. Please look like yes. Do some research. We will be show noting the shit out of this list and this conversation in general. She's one person that definitely not a lot of people know about, but because I feel like that's her choice, but she's a bridge between generations. She knows every single locking. OG. I believe she started learning from Skeet OG from Skeet. Skeeter Rabbit. Yeah. And then he started learning with the lockers and also Scoo B. So she knows a lot of the history and she's not scared of sharing that information with the new generation. So I really look up to that. That's cool. But she's always been doing a lot of work, but not so much. It's not for her. It's not for her own credit. So obviously she deserves her flowers all the time, but I wish a lot of people knew about her a little bit more. But she's one inspiration. And Keely. Keely too. I remember I was not dancing at the time. I was just starting to remember watching this music video from Justin Bieber with the Beat Freak. And I saw Maryss from Paris, and I saw Keely and I was like, what is happening? Who are they? Maris with her popping and her freestyle. So funky. She was so funky. And her performance, her awareness, she had. Me geek out about her for a long time. And it's funny because when I came here the first time, I stayed at her home for dancers, and I remember she had to drop something off and she knocked my door and I was like, oh, shoot. Like, that's her. She gave me a shirt, I think, from Home for Dancers or something like that. And now shout out to Maryss. She shares a lot of my things in the Home for Dancers page and stuff like that. So it's like, again, she's got to. Be on the podcast. Tash too and Keeley, thank you for this list. That's the future words that move me. Guest list for sure. Incredible. Yeah. Is there anyone else? Maybe Paula Abdul. I really love her work, love her movement. That type of dance is something that I really know that style. I know it's jazz. So jazz influence with other. Yeah. Yeah. She inspires me a lot when choreography wise. Genius to me. Nice. Agree. Cosign. Fully cosign. Okay, this is second to last question, but the last question that we'll tape, I would love to know what are the words that move you? The I think, you know, as a woman, as an immigrant from Mexico, I think that word really moves me and gives me purpose. Boom. Wonderful. Well, thank you for sharing that purpose, for sharing your wisdom and your story with us. I am very excited about around two, which we will have to do near around the time of the event, whenever your locking event happens. Let's do this again. And also let's dance together very soon. Yes. Yay. Oh, I'm genuinely I'm very excited. Me too. Face. Okay. Relax. Yeah. Thank you very much for being here. I so appreciate your time and really appreciate your talent and everything that you've done for the community in La. And everything I'm sure that you're doing for people where you come from which didn't have locking period at all. Question mark. There is in Puebla. Puebla not so much, but Mexico. Oh, for sure. For sure. Way more lockers than the US. What do you think? I know I said final question, but I asked this of Marty the other day, and he said that it was a good question. He hadn't thought of what do you think young Zuce would think of you now? I don't think she could believe know. I don't think she could believe what I'm doing. Cool. But she will be proud and excited. Yeah, I absolutely think you should be. Current zoo Say should be proud and excited. Thank you again for being here. I really appreciate it. Thank you for giving the space to any type of oh, man. Artist, because it's not just dancers, but artists. Thank you. This is a part of my purpose, the sharing thing. Like we talked about having an ability and a responsibility to share, especially lessons that have been hard won, I think, with how the world operates today, how easy it is to put information out there and how easy it is to put bullshit out there. I would love to put as much useful and inspiring information into the world as possible. I plan on continuing and I plan on continuing to involve you and continuing to champion all the ways that you are doing the same. Thank you. I mean, life is always rewarding you for the things that you do. Yes. Oh, the alternative is gnarly. If I just sat here with all of these things to say but not never. And all these things to ask, actually, because that's what the podcast has become secretly, is like just me having a front row seat to learning all the learning that I can from all my favorite people. Like, why would I not do that? I have to do that. I have to do that. It's what I have to do. Necessity I love a full circle. Good theme, necessity. This has been very inspiring for me. I hope it's been inspiring for everyone listening and watching. We are visual podcasts now. If you're one of my regulars that's listening over there on good old itunes or Spotify or Google Play or there are so many places to podcast these days, but especially for those people watching because I love giving faces to people who so often work behind the scene. Choreographers I love giving voices to dancers who often don't get to speak. So thank you for sharing your voice. Thank you for watching, listening and keep it funky. I'll talk to you soon. OUTRO This podcast was produced by me with the help of many big, big love to our executive assistant and editor, Riley Higgins. Our communications manager is Ori Vajadares. Our music is by Max Winnie, logo and brand design by Brie Reetz, thumbnails and marketing by Fiona Small. You can make your tax deductible donations towards that Move Me thanks to our fiscal sponsor, the Dance Resource Center, and also many thanks to you. I'm so glad you're here. And if you're digging the pod, please share it, leave a review and rating. And if you want to coach with me and the many marvelous US. Members of the Words That Move Me community, visit wordsthmoveme.com. If you're simply curious to know more about me and the work I do outside of this podcast, visit thedanawilson.com.

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