125. Making Master Plans with Mandy Moore

May 18, 2022 00:55:23
125. Making Master Plans with Mandy Moore
Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
125. Making Master Plans with Mandy Moore

May 18 2022 | 00:55:23


Show Notes

Mandy Moore brings movement to mega musical movies, TV shows, commercials and beyond… But let’s be clear, she does WAY MORE than make up steps. This episode digs into Mandy’s path to mastery, her process, her team and style of leadership, and yes, even her struggles. We talk about what it means to be a woman head of department in show business and, yes, we have a great time and laugh a lot while doing it.


Here’s what you’ll learn:

Show Notes:

Career Coaching Program for Graduates

Find Mandy on Instagram 

Mandy Explains the La La Land freeway scene (which I am in!!!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GocPFyyPGLQ&t=3s

Read Outliers: The Story of Success by Maxwell Gladwell

Learn more about the Choreographer’s Guild

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 

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View Full Episode Transcript

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 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. Hello, my friend. And welcome towards that. Move me. I'm Dana and wow. You are really in for a treat today. We are continuing our conversations about mastery with the one and only Mandy Moore. Well, technically I guess there is the one other Mandy Moore, the pop star, Mandy Moore, but y'all, as far as I'm concerned, the choreographer Mandy Moore has far eclipsed, the pop star, Mandy Moore in terms of, um, popularity and power, and also relevance specifically to me and this community of movers and shakers. Speaker 0 00:01:13 So let's do this. Um, Mandy Moore is a celebrated and decorated choreographer of stage and screen. And I do wanna also point out for the record. She is a phenomenal dancer and an exceptional teacher and a dear friend of mine. Holy smokes. I don't know how I got so lucky, but I do know that I cannot wait to get into this episode, this conversation woo. Lights me up. Um, but first let's do some wins. Shall we? Today I am celebrating an incredible group of students down at Chapman university. Um, not just any group of students, mind you, the graduating class of 2022. Yeah. Doggy. I was invited down there to work with the graduating BFAs. Um, and I did not know until I arrived, but holy smokes, I taught their last class of the year and Chapman's last class in that facility period ever. What the heck, um, Chapman will be getting a brand new facility that sounds like the stuff dreams are really made of. Speaker 0 00:02:24 Um, so future BFAs at Chapman university y'all are some lucky ducks. Uh, anyways, I'm celebrating this as a win because it was such a great reminder of the importance and the power of community. Um, seeing these dancers connect and love on each other, support each other, cry with each other, shout with each other. Of course, obviously get down with each other. Um, it was, it was an inspiring and heartwarming site to behold. This was also a very important reminder of the power of moving on, which can feel really scary and sad and like a lot of different feelings, which reminds me if you are a graduating senior listening to this right now. And if you are feeling the feelings about moving on, um, especially if you are feeling confusion or overwhelmed, um, <laugh> worry. There are still a few days for you to register for my summer career coaching intensive. Speaker 0 00:03:29 It is for graduating seniors only. So class of 2022, I am talking to you. Um, and, and we basically dig into all of the things you don't learn in dance class, how to manage your mind, how to manage your money, your relationships, your projects, all the good stuff. Um, so come and get it. Visit words that move me.com/events for more info about the program and, uh, the link to apply words that move me.com/events. That is my win. I am celebrating the class of 2022 and closing it out with a hot and sweaty bang at Chapman university. Thank you so much for having me all. Um, all right. That's what's going well in my world. Now. It is your turn. Hit me with your win. What's going well in the world. All righty, then congrats. My friend, keep winning. I'm so proud of you. And I also cannot wait to share this episode with you. So let's do it. Let's get ready for a masterclass in master planning with Mandy freaking Moore. <laugh> freaking is not her middle name, but Joe is Mandy Joe Moore. Enjoy Mandy Moore. Welcome to the podcast, my friend. Speaker 2 00:05:11 Yes. Speaker 0 00:05:12 Okay. Um, so this is a thing, I mean, I've known you for a very long time, and I think that you are a person who needs no introduction, but it's one of the things, one of the traditions that I hold here that I let slash make my guests introduce themselves. So I'm gonna yield the floor and let you tell us anything you want us to know about you. Speaker 2 00:05:35 Ooh, that's a good one. Uh, well, I, I, uh, well obviously I'm Mandy Moore. I am not the singer in case anyone's confused. Um, uh, yeah, been a dancer choreographer for a very long time. Uh, I grew up in Colorado, so, uh, same as you Dana, which is really exciting. And, um, yeah, I love dance. I guess that's all I gotta say. Speaker 0 00:05:59 Ugh, that's a great intro. <laugh> I love dance as well. <laugh> um, I also love you. I love the way you work. I love the way you talk. I love that you are enthusiastic person who is direct. And so I think in that, in that spirit, we'll just get directly into it. Um, this month on the podcast, we're talking about mastery, the, the idea of mastering a craft, the notion of being a master, what is that to you? <laugh> Speaker 2 00:06:31 Wow. Um, well, first of all, thank you for even considering me for this and I, wow. I didn't even think I'm a master at dance or choreography, so I'm really super, super honored to be here and talk about it. Um, I don't know, you know, I, I read a book a long time ago. I think you and I talked about this, actually it's a Malcolm Gladwell book where he talks about the 10,000 hours. I feel like you and I probably had talked about that at some point, cause we've had many a conversation together mm-hmm <affirmative> um, and it's I guess, I think like with the mastery thing, I think about that, I'm like I have just been doing it a long time and I've made a lot of, lot of mistakes and a lot of learning curve. I like really feel like I've learned a lot and I've had a lot of success, but I've also had a lot of time to, you know, work on this thing, this weird art form that's subjective and is just a weird expression of something you feel inside. Uh, for a lot of hours, I've done it for a long time. Speaker 0 00:07:29 Uh, so many hours so much odd, like, yes, what we do is so strange. I was watching competition this past weekend. I was MCing not judging, which means I actually get to like observe it more versus critique it more and just sit there. And I watch it. And this past weekend I was like, yo, dance is just funny. Sometimes like, what we do is so odd, like truly give an emotion, a shape and a speed, a tempo, a formation. It's so odd to me, but I do love it and is like, it's exciting to me. And I think I'm in agreement. I think, I don't think you can become a master on your first stab at something. I do believe it requires time repetition. Um, another thing that pops up for me, when I think about what is are the requirements of mastery is like this notion of ongoing practice. Speaker 0 00:08:27 No, I don't think there's like the end. Like I'm a master now, so I can put my practice down and just like, sit here resting at the level of master. I think it's implied that it's perpetual goes on forever. Um, another thing that I think, uh, a master is, and that I think you do in spades is make something hard, look easy. <laugh> like when you are steering the ship, Mandy Moore, I know a that we're gonna get there B that we're gonna have some fun on the way, but I also know that it's not easy to like pilot a ship. It's not easy to choreograph a film. Yeah. So I think so there's this Italian word? The word is pres aura. Are you familiar with this word? Speaker 2 00:09:11 No, <laugh> tell me, Speaker 0 00:09:13 I guess I'll probably botch the definition, but it's the act of making something difficult, look easy. And I know that steering a ship, choreographing, a film, choreographing, a one and a half minute thing for, so you think you can dance like that is hard and you make it look easy and you make it look fun. And I think that that's like absolute mark of a master. And I think that you have that in spades. Um, but I also think that there are masters who don't give a damn about easy or fun. They just do the work. Um, and so that's also a thing and there's value there. Okay. So, okay. We did the direct thing. Like that's what mastery is to you copy loud and clear. Now I'm gonna take a Wilson, um, a Wilson wander. I'm gonna wander a little bit. Cause I was reflecting. Speaker 0 00:10:05 I was thinking about you about this conversation and then also, you know, the other thoughts kind of like jump in, um, Elvis Pressley. Okay. <laugh> so I did some pre-production movement coaching for Austin Butler. Who's playing Elvis in BAS lineman's upcoming. And I saw the trailers come out and the movies coming out this summer. And so all my little receptors are like, like, oh my God, I'm so curious. I wonder what's gonna happen. Wonder how it looks, blah, blah, blah. And it's it's dawned on me that this film for many young people will be the first that they are seeing of Elvis. Mm. Yes. And I, so I also went down the, I also went down this like old VMAs road watching old Britney and Insync performances. And like there, those performances happened before most of the dancers I work with were alive. And like, I think there's something about being a master, being so huge that like generations upon generations will know of you and what I think what I wanna talk about right now, sometime I'll get there. Speaker 0 00:11:14 I promise is that I think so many people know you as a master choreographer. Like they saw the vanity fair Lala land breakdown thing. They see you on dancing with the stars or so you think, and they think like, oh, that's the choreographer. I am so lucky that I got to know you as a dancer and as a teacher and as a friend first. So I would love to hear a little bit of your journey to choreographer so that the people listening, who just think that you emerged into the world as a badass boss, choreographer woman like that, they might know, oh, you assisted people and oh, you taught forever. And like, I give us the roadmap that landed you here. Speaker 2 00:12:00 Whoa. Okay, well, I'm gonna try not to make it too long cuz everyone will be like, oh 44 hours later. But um, I mean, honestly it starts when I moved LA you know, I was 18, came from a small town in Colorado, moved to LA and I auditioned for edge performing arts scholarship. Right. So like that was the place it was there. Tramaine when I moved to LA and uh, I didn't make it like full stop. I did not make it. I auditioned. And my friend that came from the same studio made it and I didn't. And I remember in that moment thinking, you know, because again that was like pre um, you know, social media or email or any of that. And uh, you had to go to the studio and look at your name on a list and see if your name was on there. Speaker 2 00:12:42 And my name wasn't on. And that moment was like, for sure, heartbreaking, like it was like, oh, that was my only plan was to move to LA and then be on scholarship. But you know, in hindsight, and many years later I realized that that's the best thing that could have ever happened because then I had to like actually fight for and work for everything that I want that I wanted to achieve in LA, you know, cuz it wasn't, I didn't get the first thing. And that really set the tone for my journey in LA cuz there were many not get the first things for me and continue to be, you know, which is funny. Like why, which I think probably people that don't know me wouldn't know that cuz they'd probably say like, well, yeah, she does this and this, this, but there were a lot of times as a dancer. Speaker 2 00:13:23 Um, you know, I just, you know, I I'd auditioned. I did, I auditioned like every other dancer, you know, I auditioned for the Oscars. I didn't make it audition for, you know, whatever tour was out. Didn't make it audition for whatever television show was. Didn't make it <laugh> you know? So I, um, just kept taking a lot of class. Like that was my thing was I just really loved class. And I, I mean, you know, this, we danced on stage together. Like I really do love dance. Like we're similar in that way. Like I love to be in class and to learn and to be in group one and do it terrible and go to the side and try and figure it out or watch other people that are good in class. Like that is my jam. Like that's what I love to do. And I spent a lot of time in LA doing that and studying with masters, you know, studying with other people that, you know, I'm truly studying, not coming in for a couple classes, you know, but Colleen Phillips, I think I took that lady's class two times a week for five years. Speaker 2 00:14:21 I never missed a class. You know, I was there all the time and Jackie slate, same thing. I took all of her classes and Terry Beman and Alex Magno, these people that really like shaped who I was as an dancer. And then in those classes, just like, I mean, this is not a unique story. It's like you meet people in class. So you meet your tribe, you meet your squad, you meet your people. And I met Carrie Ann NABA in Alex Magna's class, cuz I used to take with her and we mm-hmm <affirmative> jammed together in class. Like we really liked each other. And then Alex, she'll tell this story too, but it's, you know, he asked us to do a performance and because I'm a psycho and run an overachiever, we had to bring in our own costumes. And of course I didn't only bring in my own costume. Speaker 2 00:15:05 Dana. I brought in costumes for everybody else and laid them out all out on the floor to make sure that everyone was taken care of. And Carrie Ann was like, who are you? <laugh> you know? And in that moment, um, yeah, she and I forged a friendship and from that point forward, she asked me to, uh, to assist her cuz she started choreographing or transitioning into choreography right at the start of the reality television phase. So that was in the early days of mm-hmm <affirmative> who wants to marry a multimillionaire America's sexiest, bachelor. I mean, these were like really classy shows and she was hired to choreograph and um, wanted me to assist and I am forever grateful for her because she really was the kind of in for me into the business. And she taught me a lot about the business and how to, uh, talk with executives, directors, deal with talent, be, you know, talk about rehearsal schedules. Speaker 2 00:16:00 How do you get props to the room? You know, all those kinds of things that, you know, as a young artist, you have no idea. I didn't know. I mean, I was a smart cookie, but I had no idea how to navigate any of that. She also taught me a lot about your first version. Isn't the version I remember. And we laugh about this now, but you know, she used to do, oh my God, we do the first version. We work really hard to do the first version. I was like, sweet. Like let's wrap it up. We're good. And she's like, I don't know, we're gonna do like four other versions. And I remember being so annoyed and we giggle it about it now, but so annoyed, like why? I mean, you know, version one works and I, I really credit her too with like, you know, cuz then you know, when something goes wrong, you already have a backup plan and a backup plan to the backup plan and a backup plan to that plan. Speaker 2 00:16:44 And that I think is a huge thing that I've taken with me too. And I still used to this day. Um, but yeah, then I assisted her. She transitioned into in front of camera, you know, she got, uh, well we started working on American idol with Nigel Liko. He was starting. So you think you can dance <laugh> so then that's how that all started. And I was just in the mix for that. And she was asked to choreograph season one of, so you think you can dance the audition cities and I was her assistant. So that's kind of how I got into this. So you think world, she went over to dancing with the stars and then I stated, so you think and was asked, I was an assistant season one and then I was not around season two and then season three, they asked me to, um, choreograph an uh, an episode I got pulled up <laugh> you know, I got pulled up and asked to, to do yes. Speaker 2 00:17:34 To do a duet. And then from that point forward, I kind of was then in the choreography world all the while, as you know, I was still dancing. I mean, we were in a comp contemporary company together. Um, you know, so I'm still training a lot and dancing together. And I remember giggling at that time thinking like, man, I'm like 30, I think I was 30 and y'all were 20. And I was like, this is the best job ever. <laugh> we get paid to take ballet class and like choreograph and it was so fun. I just loved it. It was so good. Um, Speaker 0 00:18:07 That would've fun. I, that would a fond chapter those early, early times. And speaking of the way you talk about training and, and taking Helene's class and Alex Magno, um, and I, my fond edge training days, well, my fond training days were at edge training with you. I remember feeling that, that my legs weren't mine. Like I was that tired and I was that exhausted. And then all of a sudden we're going across the floor in your class and we're like misdirection, Mary, super speed, weight transfer. And I remember feeling like, I don't know if I will see the other side of the floor <laugh> um, but I think I'm, I'm starting to thread this through line together, which is even like, I, I think you're a master planner and here's why I say this. Yeah. When you arrived at LA you had a plan, you had this, like, this is what's gonna happen. Speaker 0 00:19:05 And then the powers that be whether, you know, God, a tree, the universe randomness, whatever it is was like, Nope, not that one. And so you were like, oh, okay, wait. Okay. Okay. So new plan. Okay. New plan. And, and you did that like new plan thing. And then Carrie Ann taught you how to have a backup plan for the plan for the plan. And so you're this person who's so good at planning. And I, I knew that I always knew that, but seeing it, seeing that it started that early on is inspiring and cool because I think that everybody could practice planning and backup planning at any time anywhere you don't need a dance studio to do that. You don't need a dance teacher or a mentor to do that. You can just be a person that is flexing that muscle as often as you want. Um, and I love it. It it's, but you, but you can also wing it. So there's balance. Right. We know this. Okay. Um, Speaker 2 00:20:01 But I also think you have to only wing it when you have a foundation. And I think that's what planning is for me. It's like, I, of course, like, I love to just get out there and like free form, but don't kid, I have the strongest foundation underneath me because I don't like, I don't like people to see me sweat. I also don't like a sweat. I mean, literally I love to sweat actually as a dancer, but I don't, you know, as a choreographer, it's like, I hate that feeling when you're on camera or you're on set and it's going wrong, it's going very wrong. Or a director throws a curve ball, which is every two seconds on set. When you're a choreographer, they throw a curve ball and then you're like left and everyone's staring at you and you don't know what you're doing. So I cannot stand that and I will do anything to make that not happen for myself. So yeah, you, you read it right. <laugh> Speaker 0 00:20:52 Copy that. Master planner, Mandy Moore <laugh> um, this is delicious. I love it. And I also hate that feeling samesies. I think that one thing, a lot of people, specifically directors, not that they don't understand the value of rehearsal, but I don't think most people know how long it takes for us to make patterns and for how long it takes for us to get the results that they're used to seeing. And so changes often are not made quickly changes are often like those curve balls that might be a quick fix for a dialogue scene. Take, take rehearsal, take communication, take more training. And so, yes, as you're saying this, I'm remembering really wishing those moments would cease to exist. <laugh> those like curve ball moments where I'm like, I need more time. Um, or I'm not prepared for that. Let, please let me regroup and become prepared for that. I hate that feeling, but I love, well, one of the many things I love is that I know it's possible. Speaker 2 00:22:01 Mm-hmm, <affirmative> Speaker 0 00:22:02 Like with some time with communication, with the right team that's possible. And I think you're a person that's really, really good at delivering the goods. Um, and delivering clear like expectations. Like I understand that you want that, but this is what we get with this amount of time or, or whatever, fill in the blank. Um, okay. I wanna go like eight different directions. <laugh> okay. Here's where I'm gonna go. You talked about Carrie Ann teaching you how to have conversations, how to do the more, uh, mouth work of a choreographer versus like making up dance moves. Um, what would you say are the, the like defining characteristics of a great choreographer versus a great dancer? Like what's the divide there? Speaker 2 00:22:57 Hmm. Speaker 0 00:22:58 Or the dancers that you wanna work with actually, what, what defines that? And then how is that different from a great choreographer? Speaker 2 00:23:07 I think it all boils down to communication for me, or like ability to discuss ability to, uh, be in the space and have a back and forth. And that for me is both choreographer and dancer. So for me, it's like, you know, as you've been in the room with me, I can't stand people in the room that I can't look in the eyes and go, you know, or if I do look in the eyes, they're gonna like crumble into something or they, they don't have an opinion because I don't believe that dance and choreography is something that is, uh, I don't shoulder, all of it as a choreographer. I am only the, the like vessel to give it to other departments, being dancers, other, you know, the camera, the director, you know, it's like as a choreographer, it is, it's not all me. We all have to shoulder it together. And because I think, I believe we are the most collaborative department by Def definition, hands down, we cross into everybody on set. Right. So yes. You know, for me, I think it's also Speaker 0 00:24:15 Set prop costume. Yes. Lighting all of it. Speaker 2 00:24:18 Yes. I feel like that's what we need on our business cards. You know, like, Hey, I'm Mandy and I also work in these 72 departments, you know, like <laugh>, and I, I think you have to have those communication skills as a dancer and as mm-hmm, <affirmative> a choreographer. And that's the, the kind of like you were saying, like the mouth part, like that's the brain part of it, which again, as I get older and I continue to work through choreography, it's 99% of the job, you know, this it's 1% step making mm-hmm, <affirmative>, it's 99% communication and organization and all the things that you're not necessarily learning in a dance class. Well, you are, if you're a smart person, you're learning how to be a fully realized artist and dancer. Um, but you know, it's not about the steps until it's about the steps and then it's about the steps and they better be amazing. Speaker 0 00:25:05 You better have that. You better be backed up by that. Yeah. But yeah, that is such a small percentage of the time. Okay. So you were on set today, you're shooting. And what percentage of your day today was making steps? Speaker 2 00:25:20 Um, like Speaker 0 00:25:20 Zero, Speaker 2 00:25:21 Zero. I mean, yeah. I mean, because I also, don't like to be on set, having to make up steps like that is chaos to me. And I, I also feel like I've failed if we have to do that. Speaker 0 00:25:31 I love that Speaker 2 00:25:31 Definition. Yeah. Today was interesting cuz it was a really complicated day. It was a very, very complicated. So we were having to deal with post things that are gonna be done in post production and then also things that are being shot, live action. And then it's a musical and then the camera shot and then eye lines and like, you know, you have to be on point, you know, and I also love that part of choreography where I was like, don't look anywhere else. Look at me. I know I'm the expert. I'm happy to talk about it. I know the number better than anybody cuz I made it up. It came from my brain. Speaker 0 00:26:07 Ooh. That is an empowered position. My friend. Speaker 2 00:26:11 Yeah. And it's a tough one sometimes on set, you know, cuz not everybody sees choreographers as that. Unfortunately I think Speaker 0 00:26:20 I was just about to say I'm, I'm really glad that you're here and delivering this message today because I think that there's um, kind of a global awakening to the role of the choreographer. I like to think that the world is getting privy to that movement really matters. Like it actually drives not only like art culture and pop culture, but like Nope, economically dance is a force. It sells stuff. It is. I mean, look at TikTok. This is a, a force to be reckoned with and behind it and by it, I mean dance is choreographers. Mm-hmm <affirmative> who know what they're doing. We hope occasionally there, there are people who love to move, who got lucky. But most of the time, if you're, if you're looking at a, a film production, which requires something be delivered at super high quality over and over and over and over again, we're not talking about a one hit random viral video. Speaker 0 00:27:24 We're talking about reproducible quality at a ridiculously high scale that is teachable to non dancers. Yes. Imagine that. Um, so, okay. So anyways, I, I have been working as part of the steering committee for the choreographer's Guild of which you are a part of and becoming a very big part of, as we introduce ourselves to the world and education is one of our most important focuses. So thank you for <laugh> helping people to imagine or understand what it means to be a choreographer. Um, okay. And actually, while we're on that subject, I would love to talk about your team because again, I think you make great work and you assemble a great team. When I get signed on to do a gig with you, I know it's gonna be fast, efficient and fun. And I didn't even mean for that alliteration to happen. That was just born just now. Speaker 0 00:28:18 Um, and part of that is because of your ethos, like part of it is trickle down, but the other part of it is the company you keep. Um, so could you talk about like the people you love to work with and why you already talked a little bit about the people you admired, um, in those early days, but maybe we can talk also about the people that you think of our masters now. Um, but yeah, I'd love to hear about your team and how and how shit gets done in your, within your, the organism of your projects. Speaker 2 00:28:46 Yeah. Well, I mean, I think I am only as strong as my team, you know, cuz it is again, I, I don't believe that I alone, you know, and the, the person who holds it all, all the information, you know, and I there's so much more to choreography than just obviously making steps, you know this. So, you know, one of my dearest teammates always is Jillian Myers, fellow seaweed, sister, you know, I've worked with her for years and years and years and she mm-hmm <affirmative> is, she just gets it. You know, she's someone who, you know, first and foremost, I was always incredibly inspired by as a mover. I loved when she was a kid teaching her, I loved her and then I was so lucky to dance next to her. So I'm always inspired to also dance next to her and then to be in the room with her. Speaker 2 00:29:31 Mm-hmm <affirmative>, she's a great, you know, she's a great, um, not only sounding board, but also someone who can take an idea or a abstract thing. She also, you know, she gets off on it, she loves it. She's so good at it. And she loves to take ideas and ally that back and forth. And you know, now seeing how she's grown into her own choreographer too, you know, I feel lucky I say this to her all the time, but it's like, I feel lucky anytime I can have her on my team, but you know, she's been a huge part of my team for the last probably 10 years. And I very much look forward to her and what her next chapters are too, because you know, I've also said to her, like the best thing that could ever happen is for you not to be able to work with me anymore, even though that would be hard for me, but it's like, then the world gets to see right. Your voice alone, like, well, who you are as a choreographer. Um, mm-hmm <affirmative>, you know, when I Zoe's, I had Jeffrey Mortenson who was also incredible, cuz I, I find that I do my teams in threes usually, and that has worked out really well with me. I don't usually do two cuz I think three is, you know, the best idea kind of always wins with three when um, mm-hmm Speaker 0 00:30:38 <affirmative> yes. You have a democracy, you have a yeah. A, a vote Speaker 2 00:30:41 <laugh> yeah. And you kind of, you feel there's something about the triangle that is interesting to me that someone takes lead at whatever points, strongest shape. Yeah. And you know, right now on snow white, um, my team is basically my number two. My associate is Martha Nichols and it's her first time being in this role with me. So that's been really incredible and amazing for me. And also I think for her, you know, cause I've been working with Jill so long as my number two, it was like, you know, to have a new energy in there was like, whoa, you know, it's like, yeah, like you were talking about, it's like you continue to grow and learn. And I found as a choreographer too. Yes. My different, different chapters of different parts of your life. You are good or weak at things. And you know, somebody comes into a team and you're like, oh wow, you really bring that to the team, but you don't bring that. Speaker 2 00:31:30 So, ah, need that. You know? And our third person is a, a lovely young man named she Barkley, who I've never worked with. Who's a local here. And it's also his first time being on this side of the camera. So on this job, I'm really in a different position, you know, of having a brand new green team. Who's never been on this side, but you know, it's been, yeah, it's been awesome. I mean, they're so incredible and they're so different than Jillian and Jeff. Um, but still really strong. You know, you have to, that's another thing I think as a choreographer, it's like your job part of your job is to lead and to teach and to mentor and to help and to, you know, Jeff Ackerk. So you think he and I love to geek about talking about choreographers and you know, he, he always said to me, it's like, you're the one they have to look to. Speaker 2 00:32:17 Someone has to lead there can't be 42 cooks in the kitchen. Like someone has to be ed chef and someone has to make the decisions. And sometimes they're hard decisions and some, but you gotta say like, okay, everybody we're going this way. And it doesn't necessarily matter if in 10 steps you decide that's not the way we should go. We should go over here. But if no one's leading. And I think that can be the demise of a choreographer sometimes is when you just don't make a decision and you're, you know, waffling back and forth between 1,000,005 things. It's like, just go, go away, see it through. And if it doesn't work, you can take a hard left or a hard, right. <laugh> Speaker 0 00:32:51 Mm-hmm, <affirmative> mm-hmm <affirmative> oh man, I love, I love that. You said that. And I love that you're, uh, highlighting the Dyna, the team dynamics, which, you know, I've I assisted and associated and occasionally co choreographed with Marty Kalka for like, from when I was 18 up until present day. Like, and so we, I know his vocabulary, there was a point where I felt like I could finish his phrases for him. I rarely did. But there was once as a joke, we made up one of his little kid combos sitting on a couch and he told me the words and then I stood up and did them. And he was like, yes, that was it. <laugh>. Um, but that is, and you know, any strength of overused can be a weakness. So like getting to a point where you rely on just understanding or like me being able to read his mind, the truth is I actually can't. So it might be that when you change teammates, your communication skills get stronger, you find a different way to explain things. You find a different way to, um, to get the point across which great. This is why we're here to do it better than we did before. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I love it. Speaker 2 00:34:07 Now. I was gonna say too, it's like the, in my team. So I also talk a lot about systems for me. I do best when I have systems that are clear and are efficient. Like you talk about that's really important to me. And I also feel as a team again, because I think we're a little bit misunderstood as choreographers. And especially when you get into these bigger, you know, sets on television or movies, I always, you know, I was saying this actually, Martha and I were talking about this the other day, that it's really important for me to feel like my team is buttoned up and no one can look at us and go, like, they don't know what they're doing or they're disorganized or that was misinformation. And you know, of course things happen or mistakes happen. I'm never saying that it should, that everyone has to be so perfect that nothing can fall through the cracks, but I just always wanna be the people at the table that people go, huh, cuz it eventually what ends up happening is production then starts looking at you and they ask you about things instead of feeling like you're kind of a lonely isolated island as a choreographer where you're getting information seven hours and seven hours late, or you know, 25 days after the fact mm-hmm, <affirmative>, you know, it's like you slowly start, people start to trust you and understand that the team is smart and that they, that you're good and you know, what's going on and you're listening. Speaker 2 00:35:25 And I love that cuz then I'm like, yeah, we should be treated the same as the, you know, the production designer or the, you know, the, the costume designer or the hair and makeup people or the art department. It's like, we are in a, you know, especially in a musical, maybe not in a film that isn't in a musical, but we are just as equal. We are an important part of that ecosystem. But if you don't behave in a way where you're buttoned up and rocket and rolling in it doesn't matter. And that's why you need a team that's strong. You have to all be strong. No one can be weak in that situation. Speaker 0 00:36:02 Factuals. I don't, I I, yes. I couldn't agree more. It's the difference. Yeah. Being, being buttoned up, as you say, which I love is it's the difference between being a voice in mission control or the orbiting planet, like the space man out in the solar system, that's like grasping for information or communication. You want to be in the room and you don't get to be in the room if you're always messing up. <laugh> yes. So yes, I love, I love, I love that. That's powerful. Um, are there people in your world right now that are, that you feel have achieved, uh, a level of mastery that you like Google and Google over? Speaker 2 00:36:45 <laugh> I mean, every day I look at the, I mean, I, I find in different, in different ways, honestly. Like I look at some young dancers that, you know, even I don't cheat on convention all the time anymore, obviously, cuz I, you know, that was, I feel like another lifetime that I did that, but even dancers, I see it, you know, nationals or something I look and go like, wow, like you have really mastered a part of this, your life, like this little chapter of, you know, competition or understanding a certain style of technique at your age, you're really doing a great job. And the, you know, the dream is obviously that that continues to grow, that it doesn't, you know, die after that moment. But you know, I, I look at some young dancers and I think, wow, you like incredible in the way that you're moving and understanding music and space and you know what you do. Speaker 2 00:37:37 I mean, what people are doing with their bodies, obviously incredible. That's always how it is. Every generation says that about the younger generation. But you know, I also find that like you guys seaweed sisters, I look at you guys and I'm like, I see stuff you do. And I'm like, who, what, what guys so incredible, like what you do it's and it's such a beautiful voice. And it is a voice of women that have taken a long time to understand that voice. And you as also love that the three of you work together. I think that that's also a really incredible thing to talk about, but you know, I, I think you guys are amazing. I mean I'm also really bad cause I'm never on social media. So pardon me. Um, <laugh>, you know, I think the, Speaker 0 00:38:16 Well, I think it's interesting that like we know whatever part of the, even on social media, we only know the bubble that social media shows us. So I think it's cool that you know, a different world than the world that I know because of the world that's in front of me, which also reminds me what I was gonna, I, one of my eight things I wanted to talk about earlier was the change that phones made to training. And when you were talking about those earlier days, taking class at edge, you did not like there was no option to get your photo with the teacher after class. That was not the valuable moment. The valuable moment was the 90 minutes that you walked in the door and were like completely surrendering to them in their, whatever they were asking of you. And so I think that that's important because I do, I do get the feeling and Chloe Arnold mentioned this on convention this past weekend, um, she asked her teen senior ballroom, she said, raise your hand, if any of you looked up the faculty this weekend, like how many, how many of you researched who's on faculty? Speaker 0 00:39:24 And no one out of the probably 200 people in the teen senior ballroom, no one had looked us up. They were there to like win, get the scholarship. I guess they trust Joe and Terry very much that he would assemble a team that's, you know, elite or somehow vetted through him. But they didn't even know, like we walked into those rooms knowing exactly that we were what we were getting into a and B that we were about to get filet if we didn't level up. So I think, I think that that's a big shift. Not that we're here to talk about, what's changed in the world. We could go on on that. Um, but uh, I wanna talk about women and being a woman head of department, how often you see that happening, um, how often you work for women directors, how often, like what are you seeing out there in the world? Because I could tell you what I see and it's not a lot of women, but I'm curious to hear your experience. And if you feel like people hear your voice as equal, Speaker 2 00:40:29 Uh, that's a good one to talk about. Speaker 0 00:40:31 Um, just got real Speaker 2 00:40:32 <laugh> yeah. Speaker 2 00:40:34 You know, it's, it's interesting cuz I, I definitely feel like there's been a, a shift from when I first started being a younger choreographer. For sure. There's definitely more women in executive roles. There's more women directors, there's more women writers there's um, you know, more heads of department. Yes. I still feel though that it is an odd ah, it's like they're not in the top positions though. <laugh>, you know, it's like, they're almost in, you know, the, the big, big executive roles for a lot of this stuff are still men and there's very few women that are in those like top, top, top, top, top, you know, you may have a bunch of heads, heads of department that are women. Um, and I that do think that people are trying to change it. So I, I don't think that it's something that's like a loss cause by any means. Speaker 2 00:41:29 Um, but I mm-hmm <affirmative> uh, you know, I, I wish there was a little more because also there is times where you feel like you're in a boys club, for sure. You know, and you play. And again, that might be after years and years and years of it happening that you kind of don't know how to behave another way. You know, I, I definitely have felt, I have had moments where I had to play dumb or I had to play like, I didn't know, in order to be like faking everyone out that I was surprised that I came up with something really good or just happened to shoot a previ. That was exactly right by mistake, you know, so that someone could be like, oh cool. You know? And you're like, okay, whatever. Um, but that's also, I think I do take some of that on myself. Speaker 2 00:42:14 You know, that I need to also learn that it's okay to have my own voice and to not be afraid to say something in a group of people, you know? And I, I also think it's a weird, deep seated, like choreographer thing, Dana, I'm not gonna lie. Like I think we've been a little bit like under, you know, the thumb of whatever for a while and been just people don't get us, you know, like a lot of productions, don't a lot of, they don't understand our process. You, you kind of talked about that. And I think it's a big thing. They have no idea that it took us, you know, three weeks to get those three minutes the way they were. And one fell swoop of somebody saying, can you turn that around and do it the other way? It's like, they've undone everything we've done for three weeks. Speaker 2 00:42:57 <laugh> they have no idea. Cause I also believe if they really understood how hard it was to get from a, to B with choreography and really make it look beautiful and seamless and effortless and joyful or sad or whatever we're supposed to do. People really were in those eight hour rehearsals with us, you know, scratching our heads. Like how are we gonna get these people over here and do that? Or that doesn't convey that emotion. They would never one fell swift, do the things they do, but they do. Right. I don't know women directors. It's interesting to you Dana, cuz I don't think there's a lot. I haven't worked with a lot, you know, I really haven't. Mm-hmm <affirmative> Speaker 0 00:43:32 Um, I, yeah, I'm I'm curious. I, I hope to see the trend continue in the direction of, you know, more balance in our world. Um, I wonder if I wonder two things. I wonder if the, the choreographer's experience is affected by the dancer culture. I think most, not all choreographers, but were dancers for a very long, long time. And in that position we are voiceless. We are encouraged to not speak up, but to do, as we're told, when someone says jump, we say, how high, when someone says, turn, we say how many? And so we're trained to be pleasers in our past life or in our early creative lives. And I wonder how much of that is kind of residual still there learning to exercise the vocal voice as a choreographer. Um, and I also wonder because I'll be, I'll be very honest <laugh> and you can tell me to cut this part if you want. Speaker 0 00:44:37 But I think it's powerful. There is a sentence that I hold as synonymous with you. I don't know where it happened or what, when I first heard you say this, but I, I remember like kind of chaos set type five. It might have been rehearsal. It might have been shoe. I don't remember. And I remember you looking around and saying, does anyone work here? Like, is anyone working here who is doing the work here? And like, can I, can we just get things done now please? <laugh>. So does anyone work here is sort of like the way I think of you and I think that's sort of like the master planner in you when you found out like, okay, that plan didn't work. You made your own plan when you're standing on set and you're looking at nothing working. You're like, okay, let's make a plan. Who's who, who showed up to work today? Let's do that. Yes. To me. That's that's, that's powerful. That's not only creative power, but that's also executive power. Do you see yourself? Do you aspire to be in those top top positions that you talk about? Where, where you don't see a lot of women? Speaker 2 00:45:46 Yes. 100%. And the more I go in this, the more I, you know, I, I do think it's a little bit of a, you know, not to be cliche, but it's a little bit of a woman thing that you like somehow feel like you don't deserve to be there or you don't know, or maybe that, you know, like you're just not smart enough or you don't have enough whatever to get there. And honestly, the last, like five years of my life, I'm like what? I'm, I'm in these positions with people and I'm not gonna say I'm smarter, but I'm certainly more than more than qualified to be in those rooms because now I am in those rooms and having those discussions with people and you're like, yeah, I, I kept do, I can do this. I am already doing this. So why can't I also have the credit and the pay cause someone else is getting paid and has the credit for the work that I was doing. Speaker 2 00:46:31 So yeah, that's a big realization over the last year. So I'm just like it. And I get really annoyed at the chaos of production. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and the ecosystem that perpetuates this, like feeling of people just like going, I don't know until the next person does it. I'm like, no, no, do the work, get in there, figure it out. If it's not working, put like, get in the ring, get in the boxy max man, you can't be like standing on the outside going like, yeah, looks like a tough fight. Get in. We're making something. You are gonna get dirty in the creation process. You're gonna, you have to get, you're gonna have some bruises along the way. And that is, you know, not that everything has to be a fight, but you have to organize and not be afraid to jump in. I always, I always say to my Jill and I talk about this a lot too, like you gotta dive in to the deep end. You can't just like dip your toes in the shallow end of anything. When it comes to creation and production and expect an outcome, you have to dive in and you have to get underneath, get your hair wet, swim around, tread the water, come up for air. And then eventually you're gonna find that you're gonna be good to go. You're gonna find your way back to shore. But you can't just sit there and do nothing, Speaker 0 00:47:48 Especially not in a leadership role. Oh, if that's your position as a leader, then everyone else is still 10 feet behind you. Like what is she gonna do? What should I do? So, oh my God. I think that exactly. That is exactly why I love to be working with you. Cuz you're like cannon bow. Oh. And I'm like, yeah, I can jump in. It's like, you know, that permission is so fully granted at the top and that there doesn't feel to be a pressure of like you're right. Or that was wrong. It's like, let's find it. Let's find it guys. And then, and then we do, and I love that so much. Speaker 2 00:48:23 It's not a science, like creation is not a science. You can't just like add water and there's a, a piece of work. It's not a science. So you have to get in there and flail around. And sometimes it's less of a flail. Sometimes it is a full flail and a flop, but you never know unless you get in there. Woo. Speaker 0 00:48:42 That was a good soundbite. Mandy. You speak in sound bites now. Oh cool. <laugh> um, okay. So here's what I think, I know you're a busy lady. I know we got into some heavy duty women, women, women talks. Um, so I wanna, I wanna end on a lighter burnout round. Are you ready for this? Speaker 2 00:49:03 Let's do it. Speaker 0 00:49:05 Okay. This is my, this is my, how do you know you're from Colorado questionnaire burnout round <laugh> yes. Can. Um, so my, my first question, answer from the guts answer from the guts. Okay. How often do you wash your car? Speaker 2 00:49:21 <laugh> way more since I've moved to LA, but when I was in Colorado, never, Speaker 0 00:49:26 Never, that's a zero for zero. Wash my car. Um, what are Rocky mountain oysters. Speaker 2 00:49:34 Ooh, I think they're cows. Mm-hmm Speaker 0 00:49:36 <affirmative> yeah, totally, totally test TES. Um, okay, this next one. Next one is a trick question. What is the proper method for getting the ice or snow off of your windshield? Speaker 2 00:49:51 Mm, you should take the straight side of the ice scraper and I think sideways not up and down. And you certainly don't put the windshield wiper stuff on and just squeezy squeezy. No, no, no. Speaker 0 00:50:05 I was just gonna do no one. Any good. That was a great answer to this question. Um, I will say you're absolutely spot on up and down is not ever the way to go, but the actual correct answer to that question is any tool available that is flat. That is your scraper tool. I have used my school ID. I have used the, like I have used the Alet of my shoelace to, to really like carve out a little peeker view. We Hey, by any means necessary. Um, okay. Final question. What is the name of the theme park that only a tourist would call six flags Speaker 2 00:50:45 Eich gardens. Yes. Speaker 0 00:50:46 Good job. You had me nervous there for a second, but you didn't grow up. I have one for you. You didn't grow up in Denver? Speaker 2 00:50:51 No, I have one for you though. Dana. Okay. Speaker 0 00:50:52 Go. Speaker 2 00:50:53 What is the restaurant that was highlighted on south park? That the guys who made south park bought Speaker 0 00:51:00 Casa fricking Bonita Speaker 2 00:51:02 <laugh> yes. Speaker 0 00:51:03 That's the, that's the Colorado connection. My friends, Casa Bonita, the, the, the thread that ties us all together. <laugh> with like terrible, terrible after meal pains. Oh, um, alright. Mander. I <laugh>, I cannot thank you enough for being here. I have smiled ear to ear this entire time. I just so appreciate you and your time and your, and your wisdom. Thank you so much. Speaker 2 00:51:28 Love you so much, Dana. Thanks for having Speaker 0 00:51:29 Me. My pleasure. I'll talk to you soon. I wanna we'll. We'll have, we'll have a glass of wine someday soon. I wanna know all the stories of all the things, Speaker 2 00:51:38 Please, please, please. Yes. Okay. Speaker 0 00:51:41 All right. Love you. Take care. Have a great rest of the shoot. Speaker 0 00:51:48 All right. My friend, holy smoke. Arone I loved talking to Mandy period. I could do that for hours. Um, but I specifically loved talking about training and I think it's important to like underline and emphasize that Mandy's appetite for hard work on set is matched only by how hard she herself has worked as a dancer in the studio. Man. I wish y'all could have seen and felt what it was like to train with her and to share the stage with her Wowza. That is a force and it's a force that she has taken with her into all of her other roles and responsibilities. I am so very impressed and inspired by that. Also I loved talking about the many, many roles and responsibilities of a choreographer. I, I agree, especially in a musical that the choreography team has the most crossover with other departments. We are the glue. Speaker 0 00:52:56 And I also like to think of us as the glitter, actually the glitter and the glue that hold it all together. Um, I might be, you know, slightly biased, but I, I really, I think that's a fact. Um, oh, I also love to hear the esteem in which she holds her team, because I think the act of choreographing can certainly be solitary. Like you can do that by yourself, but bringing movement to mega musical movies and shows and even commercials and music videos, especially in the timeframe that productions demand these days, that really does take a village in, in Mandy's words, a very buttoned up village. Now the last thing, and this is important when I asked Mandy who she admires and who are the masters that she looks up to her answer was not what I expected. And I love being surprised. So let this be a reminder that when you are looking for inspiration, don't just look up, quote up, look out, look around you. Speaker 0 00:54:07 It's all out there. So get out there. <laugh> get into the world, get the work done, can and ball into that creative pool. And of course keep it very, very funky. I'll talk to you later. Bye. This podcast was produced by me with the help of many music by max Winnie logo and brand design by Bre res and big thanks to Riley Higgins, our executive assistant and editor also massive, thanks to you. The mover, who is no stranger to taking action. So go take action. I will not cannot stop you from downloading episodes or leaving a review into rating. I will not ban you for my online store for spending your heart earned money on the cool merch and awesome programs that await you. There. I will, 100% not stop you from visiting words that move me.com. If you wanna talk with me, work with me and make moves with the rest of the words that move me community. Oh, and also I will not stop you from visiting the Dana wilson.com. If you're curious about all the things that I do that are not words that move me related. <laugh> all right, my friend, keep it funky. I'll talk to you.

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