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? Hello, my friend Dana here. Welcome towards the move. Me. I, as usual, <laugh> am stoked about this episode. Genuinely had a smile on my face, the entire stinking time I did this interview and I still do. Can you hear it? <laugh> um, I think you will enjoy this episode too, particularly because today's guest is James SOP. James is a choreographer and a teacher who knows the value of owning your truth, yourself, your wholeness, and what can happen to your creative life when you do that.
Speaker 0 00:01:15 Um, she has created some seriously like earth rattling work and doesn't show any signs of stopping. So it was very cool to get to link up with her on her one day off per week. I'm so grateful to have had this conversation and super excited to share it with you. In this episode, we talk about her gender affirming transition, her thoughts on working in New York versus LA and commercial work versus Broadway work. We also discuss the lessons she learned from Beyonce that have trickled out into her work in the way she leads a room. Um, man, I'm so excited to get into it, but first we do wins. Uh, today I am celebrating a simple but important win. I am celebrating a few back to back, actually three back to back home cooked meals that I made for myself. <laugh> um, if you know me very well, you know that my husband is the, the, uh, the culinary on Janu of the household.
Speaker 0 00:02:24 But let me tell you what I got a cookbook <laugh> and now I cannot be stopped unless the recipe calls for slow roasting something or slow cooking something. In which case I do stop. I'm a fan of fast. Uh, so those 30 minute quick dishes, I'm a beast. I'm feeling committed to eating healthy and eating from home unless I have to be out in the world. Um, and man, it feels so good. I love it. Unpaid, shout out, just burped from my meal. <laugh> unpaid shout out to half baked harvest, um, cookbooks. There are more than one and I honestly can't remember the name of the one that I bought <laugh> that I bought, but it'll be in my show notes. Um, it's the one with little Rav on the front. What is it called? I don't know. It'll be in the show notes. It's delicious. Woohoo. Game changer. Food win. Nice. Now you go. What is going well in your world? What's going well in your food life. Uh, tell me everything. Tell me about your wins.
Speaker 1 00:03:40 Yay. Wow.
Speaker 0 00:03:42 All right. My friend, congratulations. Keep winning. I'm so proud of you. You got this. All right. Let's jump right into this. Shall we? I know you're gonna love this conversation with James SOP because it is full of laughs and also solid gold nuggets, golden tidbits of insights into her life, her creative process, all of the good stuff. So get ready to learn and laugh. Uh, that really is what I'm all about. Isn't it truly like at the core? That's it for me? And this is it. So enjoy this conversation with James ALSA. My face already hurts from smiling and we've, we've only just done the pre-call <laugh> James Al James Elof. Welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for here.
Speaker 2 00:04:37 Hello. Thank you. Thank you for having me, Dana. I love you so much.
Speaker 0 00:04:42 Oh, my the, the love is mutual. I'm so glad that you're here. I'm really glad, um, that I can see your face. We had some technical issues, but you look stunning. It's moments like this, that I wish the podcast was a visual format. <laugh> because I want the world to see when all of your glory, um, happy Sunday to you. How are you feeling?
Speaker 2 00:05:02 Incredible. It's because I finally had a day off. Right. So I got some sleep, so I'm like, I can pull it together. I can totally look together from my data.
Speaker 0 00:05:09 Yes, you did my friend and I appreciate it. Um, thank you. Okay. So it's tradition here on the podcast for all of my guests to introduce themselves, which can be a daunting task, unless you really like talking about yourself. Um, I don't know where you fall on that spectrum, but go ahead, take the floor. Tell us what you want us to know about you
Speaker 2 00:05:29 E um, okay, well, I'm James SOP. My pronouns. Are she her hers and I am Aless super fan of Dana Wilson who just so happens to be a choreographer.
Speaker 0 00:05:46 I hope that that, that is the bio that reads on your website. My friend <laugh> big fan of data. Wilson happens to choreograph of, for like the biggest stars of all time, um, and currently working on some really exciting stuff that I'm stoked to get into. Um, okay, cool. Well then let's, let's do this cuz we have a lot to cover. Yeah. Yeah. I want to bounce back to 2021. I don't remember what year it was. Let's be real. Time is an amazing, um, right. We ran into each other at the, in the Heights, premier in New York. Yes. And I felt terribly in that moment because at first I did not recognize you. Um, I think number one, that's because you were wearing sunglasses that were reminiscent of like an astronaut space helmet in there, but also also you have had a gender affirming transition and yes, I, I want to talk about that because when we first met, I, I met James in Los Angeles, James, he, him. Yeah. And I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit about that journey for you.
Speaker 2 00:06:58 It has been incorrect, uh, being finally living as myself and living my truth. Holy, which I love also, I had just come from rehears <laugh> and I was disgusting that day. I was covered from a head to toe.
Speaker 0 00:07:16 Oh my gosh. Yeah. <laugh> so you were like, I didn't recognize me as well.
Speaker 2 00:07:22 Yes. I was disgusting. I was actually hoping nobody recognized me. <laugh> got it. But, um, in 2016 is when I started my transition mm-hmm <affirmative> and I mean, I, I hadn't known since I was four years old, I literally used to go to my kindergarten class home base and in the toy chest, there was this spaghetti strap sky blue dress, and I would put it on and I would wrap my head in the scarf and I would cook fake breakfast for the whole class on this little Tyke's kitchen. That was sizzle mm-hmm <affirmative>. But I did it because that's what I would see my mom do in the morning. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so I was like, I wanna be her and it, I never, and I have an identical twin brother mm-hmm <affirmative> this gender hetero twin. And I never wanted to be like him in that sense.
Speaker 2 00:08:05 Like, I never felt like anything, male, anything mm-hmm <affirmative> mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so then, um, my teacher pulled me aside and she said, you know, it's okay to be gay, but you don't have to put on the dress cuz in 19 88, 89, there's not a word for transgender then. So it was either gay or straight. And I was like, well, I know who the gay boys are like, but I'm not them. I'm like Tasha and Danielle and I'm one of the girls <laugh> but I was told I was gay, so I was gay. And then when I really started to like really get into myself and understand myself and be really self-realized, it was like, well, when am I actually gonna start living my truth? And so 2016 is when I really gave myself permission to be me. And that's when, and I never wanted to change my name cuz I've never felt different. I've always felt like a woman. Hmm. And so I'm like, and I love the name, James. It's kind of like a middle finger to societal constructs. <laugh> yes. And so I'm like, yeah, give it to me. So here we are finally in the real flesh here she is darling.
Speaker 0 00:09:09 Oh, thank you for being here and for sharing this I'm so curious about what role dance played in you finding, like you said, being in your skin, like being your truth, being you was dance essential to that process for you. Was it coincidental? Do you think that this would've happened without dance? Do you think it would've taken longer? Do you think like what role did dance play in? All of it
Speaker 2 00:09:36 Dance, I think was probably the biggest catalyst in me really fully realizing because I started to get pissed off and I started to get pissed off. Cause like when you're what we called ourselves back then myself and Johnny Rice <laugh> we called ourselves the lady boys back then prior to me transitioning mm-hmm <affirmative> and we, it was always a special segment in somebody's dance piece where we come out and we just give the most super FM, hyper FM performance and everybody would love it and applaud it and cheer for it and then disappear and okay. I was like, that's cool. But then nobody took us seriously in any other aspects of dance. Hmm. And then I started realizing how women would be cheered and applauded and exalted for being able to dance like a man mm-hmm <affirmative>. But if a man danced too feminine, then they would kind of be scolded or looked at sideways or looked down on and I'm like, huh, that ain't cool.
Speaker 0 00:10:34 Uhhuh massive standard.
Speaker 2 00:10:36 Yes. And so, but then I also realized, well, my movement is just naturally effeminate. I, I mean, I can't help it, that I go through the drive through when I was like 14, 15, 16. And they would be like ma'am I was like, that is just my voice that's without estrogen <laugh> wow. So I can't, I couldn't help that. And then in the dance world, when, you know, I wasn't, I didn't really book as a dancer like that because I was so feminine. But then I was like, sorry, can I oops. Yep. Screw that. <laugh> screw that. I need to be myself. I need to see myself. And so then that's when I was like, okay, I am this effeminate and that's because I am a woman. And so I'm gonna live my life as such and stop trying to hide a part of me or trying to conform a part of me just to be something that I'm not
Speaker 0 00:11:23 Uhhuh <affirmative> and now I'm frightened to ask, but I think I know what the answer will be. Wa was there a marked shift in your work at that time as well? Did you find yourself working more? Did you find yourself working less? Did you find yourself working more as a choreographer, like in, in, in owning your identity? Did you also own your, your work? Was there more of it like did that yes. Did that mark a shift?
Speaker 2 00:11:49 It, there was a huge shift because I really, as soon as I started being truthful to myself, mm-hmm <affirmative>, I, I mean, it was nonstop. And my first more as a choreographer, because I had started as a choreographer in 2011 mm-hmm <affirmative> pre-transition, but I was working with women and it was all in the moments where these women were about empowerment. And I hate talking about myself in this regard, but my first music video that I ever choreographed was run the world, Beyonce mm-hmm <affirmative>. And that was pre-transition. But I'm sitting here in my fully eff self telling 200 women, 201, including her, do this choreography, feel this way, tell women it's okay. And own it. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and that's when, meanwhile that's when it happened. Exactly. <laugh>
Speaker 0 00:12:36 Meanwhile, you weren't owning it right
Speaker 2 00:12:39 At all. Mm-hmm <affirmative> but then I'm starting to see, okay, well I'm, it's okay for me to be a feminine, but then I'm like, but I'm a feminine behind the scenes. So I still felt like I wasn't good enough because not, not good enough, but you know what I mean? I'm not living the truth because not whole, because I'm okay to teach these people, but I'm not okay to be in front of these people to inspire the other James's of the world. And so then 2016 came along and it was ill name dropping again, sorry, Maya Rudolph. I did her variety show and she was the one who really encouraged me to beat me. She was like, I don't give a <inaudible> what you wear. I don't care what you look like. Are you being true to yourself? Because I would tape the show or we would rehearse, we would tape the show and I would present mail, but I would like be fully covered.
Speaker 2 00:13:26 I would cover my head. I would wear my shades the whole time. I have this little head scarf, all my friends hate that I'll never get rid of <laugh> Uhhuh and I would wear it the whole time. And then when we would rap, I would go and I would change and I would be my hair and I would be a woman. I would be the woman that I am. And she was like, why do you do that? Why do you change? And I thought she was asking, why do I present female? And she was asking, why am I not being myself when I come in in the morning? And I was like, oh, oh my God, you care, somebody cares. Somebody wants. And so to have that light switch flipped to know that it's okay. That was a huge part. And then when I tell you it was a snowball from their cha <laugh>, I've been really thankful and grateful <laugh> ever since then.
Speaker 0 00:14:13 Incredible. Wow. Thank you for that. The, that kind of origin story and that very vulnerable peak into that switch that moment where you felt empowered to commit to, to yourself, to show up for yourself in the biggest way you can. Um, thank you. And, and forgive me because I didn't say this at the beginning. I really wanted to, I will probably have some clumsy wording <laugh> in this conversation because I haven't, honestly, I haven't had there aren't too two, very many, like I can definitely count on one hand. People close to me in my life that have gone through gender affirming transition. And so I will probably say things wrong and I really hope I am not offensive. I'm just so grateful to have a friend like you, who can help me learn and, and understand what it means to be trans, um, and what it, and what it means to be trans in our industry, which specifically, I think has a way of saying we welcome everyone, right?
Speaker 0 00:15:12 Like we are all the voices, but you and I both know <laugh> that it is not that welcoming and that there are as many closed doors in your faces as there are, you know, open hands, ready to shake your hands. So, um, yes, maybe, maybe that's a good segue. It might be kind of a burnt out topic, but I'm always fascinated to hear people's perspective because you've worked in LA and New York. I'm curious what your experience is as a trans person. Is there a difference, do you feel more welcomed or more seen in one place for another?
Speaker 2 00:15:49 Uh, I actually haven't really noticed that big of a difference. Mm-hmm <affirmative> between LA and New York with, with my experience mm-hmm, <affirmative> in being trans. I, everybody has come in or met me with open arms and being beautifully accepting. Not that I need acceptance, but understanding at least and respectful, I haven't really had any hiccups. And also when it comes to like the slip ups, when it comes to pronouns, that's makes me feel normal. Like, I feel like if you try so hard to be like, if you try so hard to be, you know, super respectful, it kind of others, the other person, as opposed to, you can be in conversation with somebody. I talk to my brother and I'm talking to my sister and I'll call my sister. He and I'll call him. She just by acting it. It's a, so I'm like, that's a sense of normalcy that I love. Yes. I mean, if the effort, if the effort is there, then I get it. And if I feel respected, then child, we good to go. It's I'm not transitioning for anybody else. I'm transitioning for me. So I'm comfortable in ice skin.
Speaker 0 00:16:57 <laugh> thank you for that permission. And that reminder that like we are all humans and as, as part of that plan, part of that deal, we will mess up <laugh>
Speaker 2 00:17:08 Yes. I mean, I'm not hard to believe. I'm not perfect.
Speaker 0 00:17:13 Hard to believe, hard to believe you. Wouldn't by kidding. Okay. Well, let's talk about that, that path to perfection. Then in the past month, we've been talking about mastery on the podcast and I'm like, I'm, I'm fascinated with process in general, but specifically of people who get to be so good at something that they can do it without thinking, or they can do it while they're doing something else or they can, um, you know, they, something they do so regularly that it becomes mundane. Like it becomes like par for the course mm-hmm <affirmative> like, oh yes, of course I'm choreographing. I'm going to the Warner brothers lot today. Cuz this is what I do. Of course I'm choreographing Broadway shows cuz this is what I do like that, that level of attaining a thing is I think reserved for people that most of us call masters. Um, I'm wondering if you would call yourself a master choreographer. Oh my gosh. Your face. Oh my gosh. Your face. <laugh>
Speaker 2 00:18:19 Absolutely not. I could never, my palms are sweating at the
Speaker 0 00:18:24 Just episode, just at the introduction of the word.
Speaker 2 00:18:27 Oh my gosh. No, we just, you talking about myself again. Sorry.
Speaker 0 00:18:33 It's well, it's, it's the nature of the podcast.
Speaker 2 00:18:35 <laugh> <laugh> true. Very true. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, I'm in New York city because we are finally in rehearsals for the devil wear product of musical mm-hmm <affirmative>, which I'm choreographing. And my first day here was this past Thursday. And when I tell you I was on a red eye from LA to New York and I just burst into tears, I started crying and it started off like tears of joy and then it became tears of anxiety.
Speaker 0 00:19:02 Oh yeah. I know. Cause I'm
Speaker 2 00:19:03 Like Uhhuh. Oh my God, we're we're going. Um, this is my first foray into the Broadway world. Mm-hmm <affirmative> like why me? I went, I went through that small phase of why me am I the person for the job? What am I doing? And then I get into the room and I'm like, is my choreography gonna be good enough? I don't know. Let me just start teaching. And I just surrendered to my gift. Mm. I literally just surrendered to the gift. I was like, well, I got the job. So I guess I'm right for the job. I can't run around these streets saying things that are happen the way they're meant to happen and then not believe it and doubt myself. So let me just surrender to this gift live in the moment and whatever happens is supposed to happen and it's going on that stage, whether it be good or not. <laugh>
Speaker 0 00:19:48 Interesting. OK. I, I don't mean to add to your anxiety by saying this, but I do think, and, and I have past podcast episodes to back me up on this. I think that surrender is the mark of a master. Like being able to let go and rely on your sense of self, your sense of your edge, your sense of what's possible. Um, I, I think that's the mark of a master, so I'm not saying I'm just saying, but um, I've been a fan of your work for a long time. And if people listening don't know, you mentioned the who, who run the world music video. Yeah. Um, but you also choreographed the billboard performance for that song, which I think everyone will remember or recognize as the moment with the L E D screens behind her lay twins. Yeah. Were a part of that per performance, a hundred. How many? 102, how many hundred people hundred
Speaker 2 00:20:46 Girls that was, was a hundred.
Speaker 0 00:20:47 Yeah. Um, and it was so undeniable. It was just undeniable. It was a powerful moment. So undeniable, um, I am wondering because that was early on, relatively in your career with her in, in relationship with her. Yeah. Um, and in your choreographer career. So I'm wondering yeah. If you could pinpoint like the biggest lesson learned from that project.
Speaker 2 00:21:13 Oh my gosh. There's so many, so many things that I take into every job that I do now as a choreographer stem from my time with Beyonce specifically, I will always credit my time with her and Frank Gaon specifically because run the world was my first music video that I worked for choreographed that billboard performance was the first time I'd ever even been to an award show, let alone work on one mm-hmm <affirmative> then, um, her concerts and her tour after that, that was my first time doing a concert mm-hmm <affirmative> it was my first time doing
Speaker 0 00:21:43 Lot of first, a lot of big lessons
Speaker 2 00:21:45 Were with her mm-hmm <affirmative> yes. And so what I really take with her take from being with her is being flexible. And I mean, in every aspect, I was the type of dancer and choreographer where I was just married to the step. If that's the step I'm taught, that's the step it is <laugh>.
Speaker 2 00:22:06 But then she would put, we would be in the middle of me teaching the step and she would be like, mm let's try something different right here. She would think, and this happened by accident. She would think, okay, let's take a break. Let's go 30 minutes an hour, two hours, figure something out and then come back. I would change it on the spot. But that came out of being that came out of being nervous. I was like, oh, she hated what I did. Okay. Try this. And she would be like, how did you just come up with that? She literally said, I love how you just changed something on the spot. It doesn't even take time. I didn't think that I've never told her this, but I was like, girl, that came from me being scared of you and scared of losing my job.
Speaker 0 00:22:44 <laugh> like this, this, this need to like deliver in the moment or else you'd be kicked in the curb. Yes,
Speaker 2 00:22:50 Yes. And she was not, it wasn't like she was mean or anything. She was one of the sweetest people I've ever worked with mm-hmm <affirmative> it was just my own neurosis
Speaker 0 00:22:59 <laugh>.
Speaker 2 00:23:00 Yeah. And I was, I just put that pressure on myself. And so being able to be flexible within the step I from now on from then on, I've never been afraid to like change a step if the moment calls for it. If I come in the next day and I'm like, I don't like what we did yesterday. I mean, I won't change a whole number. I won't ruin the kids.
Speaker 0 00:23:19 Cause you remember what that feels like probably.
Speaker 2 00:23:22 Right, right.
Speaker 0 00:23:23 Don't
Speaker 2 00:23:23 Even there never do that. Yes mm-hmm <affirmative> but I'll be like, oh, let's try this different eight count here, something like that. I take that with me and just being kind, I really, and being kind of being stern, she says exactly what she wants. Hmm. And she'll say exactly what she needs specifically like to the detail. And she'll say it with so much love, and she'll say it with so much calmness. And I took that with me as well. And I've been out of that RO it also spoils me <laugh> because I got to be, that was my first. So that I'm going into all these other rooms with other people where their process may not be the exact same mm-hmm, but I would, I would take that and apply it to the situation mm-hmm and it brings a certain bit of tranquility to people who may be a bit more, um, high strung or may a bit be a bit more nervous or may be really protective of their art.
Speaker 2 00:24:20 Mm. And they really appreciate having that energy where it's not, you know, how dogs feed off of each other's energy or feed off the energy in the room. So like if the energy goes up and then the energy of that person goes up, or if the energy gets nervous, the energy of that person gets nervous, but I've been able to really go in and be like, you know what? Let's just be, remember we're human. Yes. And let's just have fun in the moment. This moment is fleeting. It will never have this moment again. So let's just enjoy where we are. So I've really taken that.
Speaker 0 00:24:49 That's, that's tremendous and such a good reminder too, cuz it can become work first in those environments because usually you have time restraints, money restraints, all the restraints, which are helpful creatively sometimes, but humans first is a great way to be compassionate. <laugh> yes. And when I'm, when I'm compassionate, when I'm human first, my creative tap flows stronger. Um, yes. Yeah. And I think for me anyways, those are the type of rooms I love being in. And I, I, I definitely flourish in that type of environment. So that's, that's interesting to hear, but yeah, they're not all that way.
Speaker 2 00:25:30 <laugh> and I, I really try to protect that energy as well. I want to always be in a rehearsal room where we can like tackle. Mm. I want to have so much fun and party. And like if we are not smiling at each other or if we don't end up coming up with like a secret look and we just try to hold each other back from laughing, I don't want it. <laugh>
Speaker 0 00:25:53 Okay. That's it. I wanna be in the room. I wanna be there. I wanna be there so bad. Um, okay. So I don't know how much you're able to say about the room that you're in right now. About your six days a week, slog on devil horse Prada. Um, no spoilers. Don't don't don't ruin any, anything for me, but what are you learning right now? Surely your experience with this is must be different than, you know, concert tours or maybe not actually, I don't know. I've never, I've never choreographed a Broadway show.
Speaker 2 00:26:26 <laugh> well, well, what I'm learning most, um, which I thought I was really good at, but I realized how I was, um, how I was indoctrinated in us in the commercial world to really just go full blast. Mm-hmm <affirmative> but what I'm learning in this room is to have patience. It is okay if you don't fully finish a number by the end of the day
Speaker 0 00:26:57 <laugh>,
Speaker 2 00:26:59 But I'm going in here with this mentality. Like, you know, sometimes you have one day rehearsal for a music video. That's gonna live on that. Imortalizes you to a certain extent. Cause it's gonna live on past when we're no longer here. Mm-hmm <affirmative> so we get in this room where we just rush to finish in the commercial world or especially in television. Oh my God. Television is so quick. You just have to pop out stuff at the drop of a dime and with Broadway, you get to like they in 20, I've been with the show now for three years. And in 2019, they gave us two weeks to have just a choreography workshop for a show that they didn't even have an opening night <laugh> and then we got another two week workshop after that. And then we've had three more choreography workshops since then. And then we go into a lab with the full company where you in there with the director and the actors and the script, the book writer and the lyricist. And it's just amazing how yet, again, it really tapped me back into living in the moment and having that patience of being like, take the pressure off yourself, girl, calm down. <laugh> mm-hmm
Speaker 0 00:28:11 <affirmative> cause it comes from you.
Speaker 2 00:28:12 That's the biggest thing.
Speaker 0 00:28:14 Yeah. Your ideas about what about expectations about deadlines, about time, about possibility. Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:28:21 Yes. Yes. And I, I love that because it flows over into the company mm-hmm <affirmative> and then they get to like ease themselves a bit and they get to receive the information better as opposed to me being like, okay, try this account 5, 6, 7, 8. Okay. Next number, try this. I'm like, oh wait, I have time to like actually finagle this and mold it to how it should be. So I'm really thankful for
Speaker 0 00:28:43 That. Yeah. I have tried to make good habit for myself and for people that I work with to do self-evaluations after every project, like what went well, what didn't go well, or what would I do differently? And there was a time actually on, in the Heights, Chris Scott asked us all the time. What did you learn today? What did you learn today? And that's become, I have a little like Chris on my shoulder that asks me that all the time. And I'm always like, I love tuning into that, but I, every time I go through this process with someone else, like what would you do differently? Almost always. The answer is more time.
Speaker 2 00:29:20 Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:29:20 More time. I just would, I just would play longer. I would rehearse longer. I would lab longer workshop longer. Yeah. It is such a gift to have that. And no matter how much you have, you always want more <laugh>
Speaker 2 00:29:32 And, but, and to piggyback off of that, I also try, I realize that also comes from people taking advantage of our gift because we make it look so easy. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and cause I mess going back to the Beyonce moment, I messed up by changing it so quickly. So now people's choreography can so quickly and I'm like, oh no, no, no. But then we also go into these high pressure situations where we're just like, okay, well I just one more time, but I try to do it quickly, but if I have more time, but then if we have more time, will we do it differently? Or then if we have more time where we would say, we want more time than that, you know what I mean? Right.
Speaker 0 00:30:11 Cause
Speaker 2 00:30:11 The catch coming too,
Speaker 0 00:30:13 The answer is for me anyways, it takes exactly as long as you have, however much time you have is how long it will take. You give me more. I will use every minute of more. Absolutely. But if I have two minutes, you'll get you. You will probably get something that looks like it was made in two minutes. So yes, that's up to the buyer, I suppose. Do you want something that looks like it was crafted or do you want something that looks like it fell out of like my pant leg? <laugh>
Speaker 2 00:30:39 <laugh> you get what you get, what you pay for a dollar.
Speaker 0 00:30:42 Yes, exactly. Um, okay. That is a perfect transition. Actually. I wanna talk a little bit more about choreographers. Our organizing. You've been a part of the steering committee meetings for choreographers Guild and I'm just, I, I would love to know. I mean, obviously I'm excited about all of it. Credit recognition, education strength for our intellectual property, all of the, there are a lot of benefits to what come with unionizing or collective bargaining in general. But I'm curious to hear what you are most excited about for the future for choreographers.
Speaker 2 00:31:19 The thing I think I'm most excited about when it comes to unionizing choreographers, mm-hmm <affirmative> I think on the top tier level, this is gonna sound so simple, but it's just the respect.
Speaker 0 00:31:34 Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:31:35 It's I feel like once we are respected in that regard, everything else falls in line. Once people have that respect for you mm-hmm <affirmative> they will then understand that choreographers are directors. Choreographers are producers, choreographers are cinematographers. <laugh> choreographers are camera operators.
Speaker 0 00:32:01 <laugh> oh my gosh. I think, I think we are the most integrated department into other departments. We, we touch, like we must have an intimate relationship with wardrobe, with set. Yes. With props, with camera, with like all of the different, um, I kind of, I like to think that a production, whether it's stage or screen is kind of like a car assembly you've got yeah. Like the people that do the wheels and the people that do the interior and the people that do the paint job on the outside and like all different parts. And usually we'll have different wheels on this project than we had on our last one. It's not the same people doing the wheels all the time. Right. It's not the same people doing the, the, the body, but I think that's what I would consider the choreography team to be is the body cuz every other, every other department touches it.
Speaker 0 00:32:53 We need, we have an intimate relationship with music department. We have to understand the script and the characters. We have to understand like the technical elements, like how it will be lit. If there will be water, if there will be rigging. And we have to understand the emotional beats of the, of the plot it's evolution and so on and so forth. So of course I think the world of choreographers, I am one it's natural, I think to have a self-centered view of yourself in the world. Yes. Um, but I love what you're doing in just simply zooming out. Like it doesn't have to be all that intricate, like respect,
Speaker 2 00:33:28 Respect. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:33:29 That's it. Yes. That's what we're going for here.
Speaker 2 00:33:32 Yes. It there's and not complaining, but there's so many times where I've gone on to set and I don't have a room or a place to set or a place to like lay my stuff, which trickles into now I'm gonna be on my feet all day as I'm going over dance modes to help somebody, you know, look great on camera. Yep. And that falls into the line of respecting someone who's here making, I'm gonna just say it doing something that everybody else clearly couldn't do because I'm here to do it.
Speaker 0 00:34:05 Mm-hmm
Speaker 2 00:34:06 <affirmative> <laugh> that sounds so excellent.
Speaker 0 00:34:08 Point. I think another thing I like to highlight the example you gave of like not being given a room, not being given a chair, not being given a place to sit or be during off time is a really good example of kind of choreographers not fitting anywhere. Like where sometimes left off the call sheet where sometimes an afterthought more or less. And that speaks really loudly on the day. Um, the sense of belonging and being recognized onset is huge, but let's not forget also the after effect, which is when those credits roll. We're also an afterthought. A lot of times if you consider where that choreographer falls in the credits or doesn't fall at all. Yeah. In worse cases. Um, so we're working on that and I'm so hopeful. I feel really, really energized by the efforts of you and all the steering committee members. I will certainly be talking about that at length in, uh, episodes to come. Um, so stay tuned for more in choreographer's Guild. Um, so thank you for weighing in on that. Um, I'm also excited and hopeful to have a place to sit and put my <laugh>.
Speaker 2 00:35:21 Yeah, literally there
Speaker 0 00:35:22 Come. Oh my God. Um, okay. I wanna, I wanna wrap it up with a couple hypotheticals because I think that you would answer hypothetical questions really, really well. Mm-hmm <affirmative> okay. I'm gonna go pretty quickly here. Are you ready?
Speaker 2 00:35:36 Yeah,
Speaker 0 00:35:37 I'm ready. Okay. What would you tell yourself if you got to talk to yourself 10 years ago?
Speaker 2 00:35:42 Hey, 10 years ago. That was 2012. Oh my uh, 10 years ago I would, I would congratulate myself for holding on in the midst of everybody else telling you to let it go.
Speaker 0 00:36:05 Mm
Speaker 2 00:36:06 EV everybody, nobody understood the faith and the hope that I had in my gift and what I felt like my gift could do for other people in the world. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and I held onto it steadfast. I mean, without nastys multi grip <laugh> but I would congratulate myself. That sounds disgusting, but I would, I would, and there were so at every corner at every turn mm-hmm <affirmative> there were just people who didn't understand what you have to believe in to make it as a dancer or a choreographer mm-hmm <affirmative> like you, you have to go through the muck
Speaker 0 00:36:47 Mm-hmm
Speaker 2 00:36:47 <affirmative> and I held onto it and I went through, I was in the muck 10 years ago. Mm-hmm <affirmative> mm-hmm <affirmative> and I held on all the way through held onto the face. Yeah. And it paid off, it paid off. I would be the angel on my shoulder. Be like, you got this girl don't let go. Keep going.
Speaker 0 00:37:06 Love that. <laugh> um, how about this one? If you had a million dollars right now, would you do your work differently or if so, how would you do it differently if you had a million dollars?
Speaker 2 00:37:18 If I had a million dollars right now, I wouldn't have a million dollars. Cause I would give so much to my parents <laugh> I would give so much to my parents and then I would give so much to my nieces and nephews and then so much to my sisters and my brother, then I would probably be left with like a spit of it <laugh> and then I would hide it from myself,
Speaker 0 00:37:47 Ask somebody to bury it somewhere. <laugh>
Speaker 2 00:37:50 Right. Um, but I don't think it would affect my, I really don't mm-hmm <affirmative> I, I, I would hope not think my mother raised me well enough mm-hmm <affirmative> to hold onto my core and I've not had a million dollars and I've not had $1 to my name at some point early on in my life. So I know what it's like to just, I know what that fire feels like. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and I never wanna lose that fire. So even if I had a million dollars, then I would, the fire would still be there cuz I would want 10 million. And if I got 10 million, then I would want 50 million. So the fire would still be act. I hope
Speaker 0 00:38:27 I love it. I love that answer. Great answer. Okay. Final one. And this is hard. I, somebody asked me this question recently and I really struggled with it. Uh, stranded on a desert island. You are able to bring a I iPod. Is that what I always say? I iPad an iPod at the op at the wrong time. Apparently they don't make iPods anymore, but you have an iPod and it has one song on it. You have one song? What is it? <laugh>
Speaker 2 00:38:59 Okay. I can narrow it down to a person.
Speaker 0 00:39:02 Okay. Okay. It be one artist. Be
Speaker 2 00:39:04 One thing. It would be something Janet Jackson.
Speaker 0 00:39:08 Yes. Well said well played well played.
Speaker 2 00:39:13 Wait. No. Okay. I got
Speaker 0 00:39:14 It. Do you have a song? Do you have a song?
Speaker 2 00:39:16 Yeah, I have a
Speaker 0 00:39:17 Song. Janet Jackson.
Speaker 2 00:39:18 Um, I live, I life. It's a song called I life by Janet Jackson from the jam
Speaker 0 00:39:23 Joe Austin. Tomita Joe
Speaker 2 00:39:24 Mm-hmm <affirmative>
Speaker 0 00:39:25 Yeah, I know it will. That
Speaker 2 00:39:26 Is oh yes. Yes.
Speaker 0 00:39:29 So good.
Speaker 2 00:39:30 That'll be it
Speaker 0 00:39:31 Work and very, very scene appropriate. I would say also nice job. Right,
Speaker 2 00:39:35 Right. <laugh>
Speaker 0 00:39:37 Um, I'll write my friend. I will leave us on those island vibes and I will probably link to that song also. Cuz if people are not familiar with that song, it is such a jam. Now that it's getting into summertime, that's where we want to for sure. Um, so
Speaker 2 00:39:51 Good.
Speaker 0 00:39:51 I'm also gonna link to more of your work. Uh, when does devil wear's Prada? Premier debut.
Speaker 2 00:39:57 What is it called? We finally we, yeah, we, we go into previews, July. We go into previews, July 17th in Chicago, tickets around sale now. And our opening night is August 7th in Chicago. We'll be in Chicago for five weeks. And then who knows we'll be on Broadway hopefully sooner than later. So we're still waiting to get the word on now. So if you're in Chicago this summer, come see double.
Speaker 0 00:40:22 All right. I will link to you and much, much more. Thank you so much, James, for being here. Yes.
Speaker 2 00:40:27 Thank you for having me Dana and love you and congratulations on this. This is incredible. So, so happy for and proud of you. Go girl.
Speaker 0 00:40:35 Thank you my friend. I appreciate it. Talk to you soon.
Speaker 2 00:40:38 <laugh>
Speaker 0 00:40:44 All right, my friend. What do you think? Did you giggle? Did you smile? I thought so. I loved the example that James gave of her nervousness showing up to help her in the moment in the room, working with B and how, uh, this expectation she thought there was to deliver right now or else. Um, and I actually, I, I think I found particularly interesting how delivering in that way from fear and fast might actually give some people the wrong idea about choreography and how long things actually take. I think it's super healthy to examine ourselves in our process to notice what feelings are driving as we create. And sometimes that's helpful. Um, sometimes where we're creating from can be helpful and hurtful at the same time. But I think in examining that in the moment is, is awesome. The awareness to be able to do that.
Speaker 0 00:41:47 Fascinating. I love it. I also loved hearing about how James prioritizes feeling human in the process and enjoying that little side eye giggle cackle from time to time, I do two oof, oh, and I can 100% cosign about the dreamy luxury of workshop, time, lab, time creation, station time. Having the time during the creative process, paid time during the creative process to workshop, um, the more and more I work, the more essential I find that time to be and dang it that time should be compensated always. I really do think so. Um, again, I will be talking a lot more about the, the themes and the work that the choreographer's Guild is up to. Um, in, in upcoming episodes, we're gonna dig in, but in the meantime, please be sure you're following choreographers Guild, no spaces on Instagram and choreo underscore Guild on Twitter. I will also link to James and much more of her work in the show notes to this episode.
Speaker 0 00:43:03 And woo. I cannot wait to see devil wars Prada I'm so, so, so excited. So cool. So, so, so great. Thank you again, James O still smiling. Um, alright. My friends that is it for me today. Go out there into the world, own your wholeness. And of course keep it very, very funky. This podcast was produced by me with the help of many music by max Winnie logo and brand design by Bree 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 from my online store for spending your hard 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. All right, my friend, keep it funky. I'll.