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. Welcome towards the move. Me. I'm Dana. I'm stoked. This is a good one, such a good one. Um, today I am talking to my friend Jamila glass Jamila. Oof. You know, I like to have multi-type on the podcast. Um, I mean like hyphenate, uh, like, uh, dancer, choreographer, director, screenwriter, editor, and artistic director of the Los Angeles, contemporary dance company, AKA a C D, which is so many letters.
Speaker 0 00:01:07 Today's guest Jamila glass is all of those things and more, she's such an inspiring person, thoughtful, uh, very generous in sharing. And man, I'm so excited for you to meet her. So let's get right to it via wins. We're gonna get to the interview by going through wins. And today I'm really dead serious, not just because it's at front of mind. My win this week was going to see a C at the Odyssey theater with my seaweed sisters. Thank you, Jillian Myers for procuring those tickets. Um, they are premiering a new work by Roderick George called dancing in snow. It was my first time seeing LA C um, in person I've seen some of their filmed works, but it was my first time seeing a show of there's in person. And I was bone rattled, uh, truly moved and provoked by this work. And I felt like such a captive audience member. It was very welcome feeling after not having seen, uh, dances in theaters for some long time. And I must also just note the work is so very important. So, uh, Jamila took time out of her busy, busy show schedule to be here on the podcast today. Um, that is my win I'm. I'm sharing that. I saw the show and that she is here today. This is exceptional. I cannot cannot wait. So, uh, now you go tell me what's going well in your world. Tell me about your bones being rattled hit.
Speaker 1 00:03:02 Yay
Speaker 0 00:03:05 Guys. Before we get into this episode, I just remembered, we are just days away from the premiere of eight counts. The words that movie, which I talk a little bit about in this episode, you're gonna dig it, but what I want to tell you, if you haven't already please buy your tickets, I will link to the event bright. You can buy tickets in person at the theater, but, uh, I would encourage you by them online. Why? Because I'm selfish and it helps me know how many people are coming and how many tickets there are, period. Uh, so please buy your tickets ahead of time at Eventbright. We are also streaming. So if you live out of town, you can buy yourself a ticket to stream and you will get your link one hour before the show. Awesome. Yes. Some yes. Great. Okay. Now Jamila and I are about to dig into what it means to be in the commercial world and the company world at the same time, what it means to be a black woman in primarily white spaces, uh, what it means to be growing up in an art family and now being a mom and being out there in the world, making stuff, huh?
Speaker 0 00:04:20 She is so special and I am so grateful to get to talk to her and now be sharing her with you. Enjoy this conversation with Jimmy glass, Jimmy Lala. I am honored. I am so excited. Thank you for being on the podcast today.
Speaker 2 00:04:41 I'm so excited. I mean, it's great. Yeah, I'm a, I'm a podcast listener, so <laugh>,
Speaker 0 00:04:46 I'm so excited to hear that. And I remember seeing your little Instagram icon, your, your beautiful pink Instagram profile, pop up and show love for the podcast in the past. So thank you for listening and super thank you for being here because I know you're a busy lady, especially in this moment. You are in show mode. I wanna talk about it. I wanna talk about your fascinating career. Um, I think you have a very rich skill set. I love your dancing. I love your appetite for making things and the many, many different modes you have of making things. I wanna talk about all of it. Let's do it. Um, but first tradition on the podcast, I would like for you to introduce yourself. And I'm always fascinated at how this plays out, cuz it can be, it can go many different ways. <laugh> sometimes very brief, sometimes very deep, but I'll leave that up to you. Let us know anything you would like us to know about you.
Speaker 2 00:05:46 Hi everyone. My name is Jamila glass. And I like to say that I'm a better dancer because I'm a filmmaker and I'm a better filmmaker because I'm a dancer. I'm also the new artistic director of the Los Angeles contemporary dance company. And I'm a choreographer and a homeschool teacher for a five year old.
Speaker 0 00:06:07 Okay. I knew all of that except the last part. How's that going right now?
Speaker 2 00:06:11 It's going, I mean, you know, he'll be homeschooled until further notice. That's what I tell people. So mm-hmm <affirmative> he was, it, it, it it's just been a part of his life since he was, um, you know, born. Um, but mm-hmm, <affirmative>, it's it, it, um, a part of it, I like, because based on my career, I can kind of take him with me if necessary. Um, and there is no, you know, rigorous or rigid structure to his life. You know, you get your, as long as you get the learning, then it can happen at any time. Um, and so that's been working he's, he's pretty advanced for his age.
Speaker 0 00:06:54 Wow. You're I, that seems like a trickle down situation. The advanced thing <laugh> um, okay, so dancer, choreographer, director, we'll, we'll call it film film, because you also are a screenwriter editor, um, artistic director of a C D homeschooler. Tell me this, what prepared you for what you are doing now for all of the many things? Is it your training? Is it your, your parents, your upbringing in general, or I guess this could be a very quick answer cause it's probably everything combination of everything, but I would love to hear about your training, your upbringing.
Speaker 2 00:07:34 I've never been asked that question about, you know, what, what has helped me to get to all the things that I'm doing right now? I would say my parents, the environment that they fostered really championed us to explore anything that we wanted to. I grew up, um, in an arts household. I come from a family of four girls, uh, no brothers and I'm number three in the lineup. Um, so I was, um, exposed to the art, um, used to go to the musicals, but my parents had season tickets to the musicals and I'm from Houston, Texas. And so that was a part of my life. Um, I ended up at a performing arts high school. I went to the high school for the performing of visual arts, which I was there with Nicole Hurst, who, you know, yes. So yes, yes, very, very sweet individual. We sang together. So I was a vocal music major there. I wasn't a dancer there.
Speaker 0 00:08:38 Ah, that's news to me.
Speaker 2 00:08:41 Yeah. Wow. Yeah. So she was in the class of 2000. I was in the class of 2001. Yeah. It's beautiful. So super talented, beautiful soul. So kind, always smiling. Um, so yeah, I, I met, I met her there and I was a vocal music major there. So that allowed me to access, um, a different art form and train and have an appreciation for music in a, in a very specific way while I was there. I, um, tried to dance as much as I could in the all school musicals. So I would always audition as a dancer and well to backtrack. I started dancing in church. I was a praise dancer, and then my parents put me in a studio and I was there. Uh, this was around seven years old and I was progressing pretty quickly. However, again, you know, I have three sisters, my family would be sitting on these hard benches in the lobby waiting for me.
Speaker 2 00:09:41 Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And eventually my parents made the decision. They said, well, we have three other children. We can't put all of our time into, you know, uh, your pursuit. So let's take a pause on this and then just see how we can, you know, figure this out. So ever since that time, which was, I think I was in elementary school, I think I was in maybe fifth grade. I have been hanging on to dance <laugh> ever since. Wow. So I went to HS, P V a was a vocal music major there. And then I played sports. So, um, I played volleyball, basketball on track, and I thought I was going to the Olympics at one point, uh, as a track athlete, but that didn't happen. Um, <laugh> uh, and then I found myself at university of Southern California as a cinema television film and TV production emphasis major. While I was there, I joined a dance company that was a student led company that was sponsored by the school of theater, but we would put on two shows a year. That's where I met Kate hu Mason, who is the co-founder of LA contemporary dance company. So the day after my graduation, I auditioned for LA, which was a new company at the time. And I've been with company for 17 years. So that is okay. The scope,
Speaker 0 00:11:03 Founding member status,
Speaker 2 00:11:04 Founding member. Um, and you know, when I was little, I, one of the things that I wanted was to be a professional dancer and to travel around the world, dancing, I didn't really know what that looked like outside of the traditional, you go get a dance degree, you go join a big company. I didn't know about the LA dance scene. Even when I was living here as a USC student, I didn't really know about the commercial world. Although I did spend a lot of time, um, learning music videos off of, um, you know, YouTube or on YouTube around I, it was like Morpheus and, you know, lime wire days.
Speaker 0 00:11:47 Oh yes. Oh yes. These were, these were right there on the tail end of like me a VHS, a TV that had a VHS player that I could record the MTV VMAs and learn every mm-hmm <affirmative> every live performance. Yeah. That was that. Mm-hmm <affirmative> that block of time for me, for sure. <laugh>
Speaker 2 00:12:05 Yeah. My go tos were Janet Jackson, choreography, Misty, um, Aaliyah, Christina. And was there one more? Those were, those were my main, my main ones.
Speaker 0 00:12:20 Yeah. I've been on a throwback train. I, I listen, I was a fan of Brittany because I was a fan of Wade and I was a fan of, so this is now we're and we're catching, like, this was sort of the end of VHS, but I was a big fan of dance period. I I'm hearing echoes of this here as well, but I think I was on the opposite side of the, um, dance world isle. And I'm excited to be introducing this topic now, cuz the only thing I thought you could be was a backup dancer. Mm. Like my idea of what it meant to travel a world dancing was to be on tour with a big pop star. And so since then, you and I have both been finding all of the many, many ways that you can be in between those two worlds. And I'm excited about specifically about how you are able to straddle those two is more than just a toe in the pool. On each side, you are like fully in both worlds, at least to my perception from the outside looking in. Is that how it feels?
Speaker 2 00:13:28 Is that how it feels? I guess now maybe since I did dear white people, it feels like I'm really
Speaker 0 00:13:35 In it Netflix,
Speaker 2 00:13:36 But mm-hmm, <affirmative>, it's, it's interesting because I, I joined LA, like I said, right out of college, uh, um, and I started getting into the commercial world because there were some people in the company who also dabbled in it. Um, we had some people who were former edge scholarship students and so they would recommend me or um, you know, encourage me to look into agencies and stuff. And I was like, oh, I don't know. Like, um, I don't know that I fit that world. And um, just based on some of the guest choreographers, we would bring in like MEChA Bai, Andrews was someone who was really huge
Speaker 0 00:14:15 Mecca.
Speaker 2 00:14:16 Yes, of course.
Speaker 0 00:14:18 I mean just O woo. Yes.
Speaker 2 00:14:20 She was a big part of my introduction to experimental theater and performance art. And I worked with her consistently for one or two years. I was taking her class consistently at the edge, the old edge with the brick walls, um,
Speaker 0 00:14:36 In the smells <laugh>,
Speaker 2 00:14:38 Especially in the summer. Um, she, so she and Adam Parson, I was training with for a good period of time. Um, and they would allow me to take their class for free. So I was there week and I learned so much about performance, quality about being open to just different types of movement, different types of processes. And I think that that openness allowed me to work with a lot of different commercial choreographers. Not all of it was paid at the beginning, but I was able to just kind of like build relationships slowly and that continued to grow. But a lot of people, because L a C D was, um, part of our mission is to hire LA based choreographers. So while we do work with some international and out of town choreographers, we really want to support the artists who are in the city. And so through the company, I was able to meet and work with people like Ryan Huffington.
Speaker 2 00:15:49 Uh, like I said, Mecca and Adam, uh, Nina Mcneley has choreographed on the company. And so that kind of exposure in, in a more concert dance space allowed me more access in the commercial dance space. And so I feel like I've worked with almost all of them in the commercial dance space or have expanded community because I've known them. Wow. And one thing I, I feel like we talked about this a little bit, but, uh, one thing that I think maybe both sides, concert and commercial dancers do is they kind of stay in their circle and it, it, I feel like it's detrimental because there's so much that we can learn from each other and so much that we have in common anyway. I mean, we've pretty much gone through the same journey. I mean, I wasn't a competition kid, but that doesn't mean I, I can't relate to a competition, a person who has a competition background. Um, and I think because of like me being in the concert dance world, but having several touch points in the commercial dance world that, um, that has really helped my, my career and my relationship mm-hmm
Speaker 0 00:17:00 <affirmative>, this is a beautiful theme. What you're kind of what you're starting to illuminate is a landscape out there that I, I thought we might drift into, but now I definitely, definitely want to, so, oh man, is there a graceful way to do this? <laugh> there must be. I don't know if this is it though. Are we more alike or are we more different? Kind of seems like the big, big umbrella question that we could ask. And I wanna talk about the piece that I saw a C perform on Friday night and actually unlike most of my podcast episodes, this one is time sensitive. I am telling you listeners that are listening on this today, which is Wednesday that this weekend, the what will it be? The
Speaker 2 00:17:50 Ninth through the 12th
Speaker 0 00:17:51 Through 10th, the ninth through the 12th. Yeah. Yes. The ninth through the 12th, you have to be at the Odyssey theater, seeing LA contemporary dance companies work by it's a premier right world premier.
Speaker 2 00:18:03 Yes.
Speaker 0 00:18:05 By world premier by Robert, George. Yep. Called dancing in snow. And I, I would love for you to talk about the work. I will just yield the floor, but what I'm thinking is like, okay, you went to a performing arts high school, which must have been, I'm imagining insanely competitive, at least as competitive as me actually on stage competing for a medal, you were probably competing for roles, castings in, in performances. Um, top grades, things like that. And I'm, I'm really trying hard to not make the assumption that we are the same because we aren't, we're different. And in the piece, in Roger's piece, there is a bone rattling and like goosebump inducing feeling of, um, no, we aren't the same and it's really wrong to make people feel like they have to be really wrong, really messed up. So I would love to you before ask you to talk a little bit about dancing in snow. And, um, then I'll, I'll, I'll share some of my thoughts about it, which will probably sound even still three days after having witnessed it, I'm blown away. And I don't know if I have a cohesive thought yet, but I'm, I'm happy to talk about it and wanna ask a lot of questions.
Speaker 2 00:19:32 Well, dancing in snow is a world premier by Roger George, who is the New York based choreographer currently, but he's also lived, uh, extensively in Switzerland and Germany. Roger was first commissioned by the company in 2019, and he was commissioned to create a solo on me. And the solo was called tainted. And it was about, um, me being me finding myself as the only black woman in white spaces that solo, he wanted to work with more people in the company. So that ended up being solo slash small ensemble. And he wanted to expand the perspective a bit and work with more people in the company. So I found myself several years later to be artistic director of the company mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so I decided to bring him in to fulfill that vision, doing something a bit deeper and more extensive with more, more dancers. So we worked with him, um, for a month in April, and it was a very intense, quick process. Um, ideally it would've been longer, but you know, dance, uh mm-hmm
Speaker 0 00:20:49 <affirmative> and, and wait, this, this is 20, 20 19. This is pre pandemic.
Speaker 2 00:20:54 So 2019 was when we did the solo, but we did the
Speaker 0 00:20:58 Backup.
Speaker 2 00:20:58 Okay. The dancing in snow, we did dancing in snow in April of 2022. We did the residency with him for a June premier at the
Speaker 0 00:21:08 Odyssey. Oh yeah. So that was mad, fast,
Speaker 2 00:21:11 Super fast, super, super fast. And so the work is about the it's about several things. It's very layered, but, um, generally speaking it's about the tokenization, uh, and appropriation of black and queer culture. Roger's also a queer artist. And within that there's themes of, um, the 1950s utopian era, the make America great, again, movement, um, gender norms, um, the dismissal of black bodies. And depending on where you are as an artist in, in, in, in, in the performance, it can be, um, heavy in different ways, whether it's like, because you're trying to remember counts because you're trying to see, depending on our costumes, mm-hmm, <affirmative> because our costumes are
Speaker 0 00:22:11 Yep. There, uh,
Speaker 2 00:22:12 Veils challenging or, or the, the actual roles that we are playing. Um, the music is another character in the piece and, um, has nods to the 1950s and some of the, the traditions, um, that were problematic. Um, mm-hmm
Speaker 0 00:22:37 <affirmative> and also club culture. There was jam, like it mm-hmm <affirmative> oddly, I didn't feel like dancing watching it, but the music was a heartbeat for sure. A personality. It was a character. Yeah.
Speaker 2 00:22:52 Yeah. It's definitely a personality. But in, in that, in that first half, it's so interesting the way Roger, the ebb and flow of, of that picking hand, picking of culture in these mm-hmm, <affirmative> kind of stark blank, robotic nature that we have. And so we kind of go in and out of, okay, I'm gonna do some culture now, and then I'm gonna go back into being a bit bland, this
Speaker 0 00:23:22 Monolith.
Speaker 2 00:23:23 Yeah. Um, and so the music really supports that and, and, and I guess hits up against it too, because it's kind of grading and, you know, at one point, but then it's very disruptive. And so mm-hmm, <affirmative>, that goes back to the, the counting. There's no way that we can do this piece and check out.
Speaker 0 00:23:45 No, I, there were moments where I was like, how are they doing that at the same time? Cuz I don't hear it. They must have been counting like nine, ten, eleven, twelve one two one two three, four, five, six, eight, nine, ten one, two, three. Like I was, I was so trying. I was so trying. I try, I also though I wanna say this and I, I think this's a Testament to the work and to the performers. It's very hard for me to not wonder how did they do that? When I go see a show after having made shows myself and been a performer for many, many years, it is like the way I'm sure actors have a hard time watching films without thinking like about the actor's process or what it is that they're doing. But I will say that that show had me firmly in the position of audience member, like captive audience. Um, I didn't, it, it, it was not that often that I thought about the performer's, um, experience, I was thinking about like, whoa, this is happening to me. Whoa, that turn, I didn't expect, whoa, I'm floating, whoa, I'm being beat up. Whoa, I'm being, you know, Cod and, and held and safe. And it, it really, as an audience member took me through quite a roller coaster. So I cannot encourage enough. Anybody listening, please get to see this show, whether it's now at the Odyssey or later, I hope it'll, it, it, it will remain with the company for a long time. I, I would have to assume.
Speaker 2 00:25:21 Yes, it's, it's a part of our rep and we will actually be in San Francisco for interview who are based down there or over there. Um,
Speaker 0 00:25:30 <laugh> up there beside, beside between.
Speaker 2 00:25:35 We'll be there in December. So you can look out for us there. And then who knows, who knows where we'll be within next? I mean, I, it definitely is a work that I want more people to see. And the, the fact that we get to do eight shows, which is not normal for us as a company to, to get that many performances for one work allows us to really settle inside of it because the work is so challenging to do. Um, mm-hmm, <affirmative> a lot of, a lot of the audience members have said the past three nights that the work feels shorter than it is much shorter than it is and inside of the
Speaker 0 00:26:12 Work. Oh,
Speaker 2 00:26:12 Absolutely. To feel shorter. It's starting to feel shorter too. So we're like, oh, okay. Like those, our breaks used to seem so long and now it's like, okay, we're already to the second half. So, you know, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, we're, we're finding it and settling in and, you know, um, finding new nuances and, um, and so that feels really good.
Speaker 0 00:26:35 Cool. The show for being, um, heavy, it like heavy subject matter heavy symbolism is very nuanced. And I wanted to say that because I think, you know, uh, I just wanted to say that because I think I wanna say things all the time. That's why I have a podcast, but it feels weirdly insensitive or inappropriate for me to talk about things like the composition or like the moves and the lifts, and like even the sound design because the topic, the subject matter is so much bigger than that. So it feels weird for me to like break apart the tiny pieces, but the tiny pieces are so well done from the costumes to the sound design, the placement on stage, um, the, the scene there's a small scene in the middle of it that I just thought was like, absolutely gut wrenching and, and fabulous. Um, I think it is the handling of a very important subject done very, very well.
Speaker 0 00:27:40 And I hope that everyone goes to see it and gets their, like their self handled by the show. That's how I felt. I was like, I just got totally handled, like, like the way I feel when I go to the Korean spa and they just like, kind of move my body and scrub the places. And I'm just totally passive in all of it. And I go out better than I went in. Um, but not necessarily good. Like I just got my skin scrubbed off <laugh> and I just, it's not, I, I, I didn't feel like refreshed or, you know, I felt inspired, but I, and I also felt heavy. So if you're a person who likes to feel things, when you go see art, um, feel things other than like work fear steps, which there were, um, then this is, this is the show that you have to see.
Speaker 0 00:28:30 So whoa, to loop back, cuz we were talking about bridging, right? We're talking about bridging spaces and being an, an X in a Y space or being, you know, a commercial dancer in a contemporary space or company dancer in a commercial space, vice versa, being a black person in a white space and having to do it the white way. It seems like after having watched the, the first half and then seeing who is behind all of that, I just felt like it was so terrible that they must have had to fit those shapes and be those people for the first bit. And it was a lovely evolution to see, but thinking about how uncomfortable that must be to have to try to fit for so long is that's really what rattled me the most. But what I'd like to talk about is the experience of being deeply rooted in a company like a C meanwhile, having this very fruitful and attractive career in TV, film, music, videos, meanwhile, having your own production company like doing personal things for your personal pleasure. I think, I don't know. Um, do you feel pressured to conform in those spaces or is it the reason that you're able to be in so many places is because you're not trying to be in any one shape, but just existing is you, I might be romanticizing it a little bit. I'm sure it's much more complicated. <laugh>
Speaker 2 00:30:16 Well, I think to, to start, I have always felt like I was behind as a dancer because I didn't that, that intense training stopped when, when I took that pause when I was in elementary school. And so when I entered the industry, I was well aware that I was not in the same place, even though I could keep up. I was well aware that I was not in the same place as my peers. And so that is something that has always, that, that stayed with me through, I would say most of my professional career and, you know, thinking about my facility, not being like others or I'm not tall, which is desirable for some people or, you know, I don't have these, these credits or, you know, I wasn't a competition dancer. So I don't have that as the foundation I did, I was taking ballet, jazz and a little bit of tap back then.
Speaker 2 00:31:22 But, um, you know, so I still have that, you know, foundation, but that was a big part of my mental battle during my career. Mm-hmm <affirmative> here. And so if you add that with being, um, one of the only one, most of the time, those, those things are very challenging. I think, um, because I had other interests though it allowed it not to feel so desperate within the dance world or within the company. And these other things really fulfilled me. So I started off as an editor, a freelance editor, and I started a business where I was doing many different kinds of projects that expanded into me directing dance films, just because I wanted to know if I could still direct post college. I didn't, mm-hmm <affirmative> really know about dance films or the art of dance filmmaking, but I was a dancer and I had access to dancers.
Speaker 2 00:32:33 So I said, Hey, let's, let's do some things. And it was always for, like you said, it was a personal thing. I never did it with a film festival in mind. It was always self-funded. Um, I, you know, wasn't able to pay my dancers. I always fed them, you know, would make sure that they were in, you know, a comfortable rehearsal and shooting environment. Um, and then I would pay for all of the, the other things that had to be paid for. And so that really allowed me to have something else to feed me when the other things were not. Or when I, I don't know when I wasn't getting what I needed, um, or when I was dealing with these mental battle of what I thought that I lacked in the dance world. Um, and, and it definitely enhanced me as an artist and helped me to find my voice as a creative.
Speaker 2 00:33:33 And, you know, I don't love all of my work. I, I think I've done like 20 now since 2011 or 1220 dance films, I've directed, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, uh, those, but, um, every film that I do, I try to push myself in a way where I'm doing a little bit too much. <laugh>, uh, that I'm doing something a little bit more than I've done in the past, you know, I'm trying to, to learn. And, and sometimes I don't know the results. Don't always turn out the way I want also, you know, with it being a stri budget. Oh my goodness. You know, <laugh> uh, yes. So yeah, I, I feel like the, the filmmaking has really helped me to feel like I had my, I had something that I can control, especially because I wasn't doing it to get into a festival. I was really just doing it for me.
Speaker 2 00:34:32 Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so that freedom, um, really helped me to feel like I was in control as an artist, even though I was like learning the whole way. Um, and well, that singular mindset, you know, it was me and my vision versus me being, you know, I'm, are you in the cast or you not, oh, you didn't get into the cast or you're in the cast, but you're not really being used that much. And then it's like, oh, I'm not being used because of this, that, you know, our mind goes into a spiral, all, whatever the assumptions are, mm-hmm <affirmative>. And so I think that that's really helped me.
Speaker 0 00:35:09 Yeah. Having a thing that is yours, that you can be excited about, that that won't be taken away by someone else or valued by someone else. People who listen to the podcast all the time will know this about me. I talk about it always, but in 2014 I started a daily project daily movie. Um, this was beginning of Instagram doing videos. And I decided I would make an Instagram video every day for a year and found so much fulfillment, empowerment and learning, which I am finding is like one of my absolute core principles, like learning. Isn't a principle values. <laugh> was like, I thought of myself as a person who wasn't good at technology. I thought of myself as a person who couldn't finish things. I had a lot of ideas, good starts good seeds of thoughts, but I couldn't deliver. And I didn't like that about myself.
Speaker 0 00:36:13 So I thought I would find a project that helped me make those weak muscles stronger. And what actually happened <laugh> in addition to those muscles, getting super strong is that I remembered the power of having things that are mine, because it was very early for me. I moved to LA when I was 18, no college. I was like, went into the, let me be right for you. Let me please, you let me, you know, be the girl next door and the video Vixen and the girl that can hang with the chicks and the like, let me check all the boxes and meet all the breakdowns <laugh>. And that was, it's a great way to get lost, really good way to lose yourself. And so this project for me came about while I was on tour and there were days I was more excited about my 15 second poop of a video than dancing in front of 30,000 people.
Speaker 0 00:37:11 Being somebody that there was a part, there is definitely a part of me that is a performer. And so I felt at home in the performer skin, like being on stage, didn't feel like pretending it didn't feel like trying to meet a breakdown, a casting breakdown. Um, but to be reminded that having something that's just yours, not behind someone else or not, even when you're first on the call sheet, it's someone else's thing. So having, having a thing that is yours is an empowering feeling. And I love that. What you're underlying underlying underlining is that being a multi hyphenate, multi type doesn't necessarily, I suppose you could make the argument against this, but it doesn't necessarily take you away from any one thing. Being an editor, didn't take you away from dance. As you mentioned in your intro, it being a filmmaker made you a better dancer, being a dancer, made you a better filmmaker.
Speaker 0 00:38:12 And I think when we think of our many different interests as enhancing our focus versus distracting from our focus, we unlock portals. It's like there is power there. And I think you're an excellent example of that because, you know, as I was preparing for this episode, I'm just looking at the many, many things that you do. My first thought was like, how, like, how do you do it all? And I ask myself this question often <laugh> people ask me this question. I ask all of my guests this question. And the answer is almost always like, oh, I, I, you think I do it all? I don't think I do at all. I'm just trying to blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Um, but I think you're a person who uses the different areas of your life, the strengths in different places. And you apply them to wherever it is that you're focusing. That's what it looks like from the outside anyways. Is that what it feels like?
Speaker 2 00:39:11 Yeah, I would agree. I, I would say that there's an ebb and a flow and I go with the flow. Um, and that's just always worked for me, even though it's hard to understand from the outside for a while. I was, um, I pretty much had a full-time job being the editor, the lead editor for an independent television network. I did that for several years until I was pretty much burned out. Mm-hmm
Speaker 0 00:39:42 <affirmative> a lot of sitting and a lot of dark mm-hmm
Speaker 2 00:39:45 <affirmative> and a lot of, you know, I mean, you know, this as a choreographer, just a lot of, um, not prepping on their end. So then I had to fix, I was fixing a lot because editing is something that I enjoy, you know, the, the sitting and everything I remember at USC, we would be in the editing lab and everyone around me would be Cusing. And I would just be like, <laugh>, you know, in
Speaker 0 00:40:11 Your flow state,
Speaker 2 00:40:13 In my flow state, I used to do puzzles as a, as a child, like a thousand piece or don't give it to me. And so I feel like that was the beginnings of me, um, being fascinated with how things are put together and, um, wow. And then when I would see behind the scenes videos and things like that, I'm like, oh, to all of these things, you know? So I think that's why editing. I, I connected with it in that way, but you know, at the end of the day, I was like, okay, I can't do this anymore because this is not fulfilling me feeling me anymore. But I was able to learn so much at that time. And I was still I'm dancing the whole time. And, you know, because of the, the nature of that job, I was still able to deliver, deliver by the deadline, but I didn't have to be in an office.
Speaker 2 00:41:05 So I was able, most of my work has been, I've been, I've been able to work from home, um, and then danced kind of flows in and out how it, how it flows. And sometimes obviously things, uh, conflict. And then I have to say no to some things, and then I'm like, ah, but, um, most of the time it, it, it, it works out, but there's a fun fact in terms of my, uh, more recent choreography, commercial choreography work. So like I said, the dance films I've done a lot of them, but most of them, I did not choreograph because I was really interested in directing. So I would reach out to choreographers in the LA area and I would ask them if they wanted to, to help me realize this vision. So I worked with, um, Adam Parson, I worked with jar Reese. I worked with, um, I can't think of other people, but so, and I choreographed maybe a few of them, but most of them, I didn't. However, if you're talking about the way producers and directors think that are non dancers, they know they, they know that I'm a dancer and then they see this portfolio of my work mm-hmm <affirmative>. So then they're like, you must know how to choreograph. Well, you do this music video for me. And then I'm like, yeah.
Speaker 2 00:42:29 So that's kind of how I got into that side because wow. People had, I had a portfolio of work. So, because I was like, I need to be a director. Like I need, you know, coming outta USC, you know, every, you know, a lot of people wanted to be directors. And so I'm like, okay, so I need to do, if I'm not doing this, this or this, then am I really a, you know, a filmmaker. Um, and so it was interesting that my choreography work came out of this thing, this other thing that I was doing. So we're talking about like enhancing things, enhancing each other. Mm-hmm <affirmative> um, mm-hmm <affirmative> so, yeah, I was, I started out in music doing a few music videos, and then I got my first movie, uh, I think in 2018 and then dear white people happened during the pandemic in 2020.
Speaker 2 00:43:23 Um, so, you know, first time doing a television show much less, well, first time doing a television show on that scale, I had done movement direction mm-hmm <affirmative> um, before, but, but doing choreography on television show much less a whole season. And I was trusted to do that because, um, of my filmmaking background, actually, Justin and I went to high school together too. So Justin knows Nicole as well. Um, Justin, the creator of dear white people for everyone who doesn't know Justin Simian. Yes. And yes, one of the things Justin said to me was I like working with you because you, as a, as a director filmmaker, you know how to use the camera to tell a story. So I know that we are speaking the same language. And so that meant a lot to me because, you know, for someone who at a time was like, oh, you know, I came outta USC. I should be doing this particular thing that my skills mm-hmm <affirmative> were still being used in other ways and valued, especially on such a high level. Um, mm-hmm <affirmative> that, you know, all of that training wasn't in vain, you know what I mean? So I feel like I kind of meandered, I don't know what the question was.
Speaker 0 00:44:42 No, no, I did. Oh, I, I didn't ask a question. I, this has been a very meany, a very wander and touch on many things conversation because you are a many things kind of person, and I'm a mini interests kind of person and many things kind of person too. And I think like, I, I, I work with a lot of up and coming people who are concerned, they're worried that they don't know the one thing that they wanna do. And they have like all of these interests and they think that that's a hindrance and I can definitely see how that might feel true. I can definitely see how you might think that you have to choose one thing and go all in the messaging of our world, 110, give it your all like that is the message. But I think there's so much to be said for wandering and finding in maybe unexpected places, things, things in languages that might help you talk to people in the place that you wanna work, being a person that understands a camera doesn't suck ever.
Speaker 0 00:45:50 <laugh> mm-hmm <affirmative> whether you're at a, at a family barbecue, trying to capture a moment or on a set, trying to choreograph a musical moment that, that, that reads for camera that furthers the plot. Like it never sucks to be a person who understands cameras and I'm getting better at it. Right now. I'm actually editing a personal, I guess it's more than personal because it's a community project, a podcast community project. And, um, I started back in November and I thought that it would be, I started like asking for people to submit footage, cuz it is also, it's a collection. I'm editing it. I wrote it, I directed it, but I didn't shoot most of it. 90% of it is shot by other people and they sent it to me and now I'm patching it together. But I started in October. I thought it would.
Speaker 0 00:46:41 I thought we would be premiering it in December of 2021. So hi, it's June of 2022 and I'm only just now doing it. But all of the, all of the parts of me were essential for this project, the friendly bits, the organizer bits, the editor bit, the writer bit, the goofy bit, like all of'em are essential. And I found all of those and nurtured all those to some extent along the way. So it's important to have personal things in a world where, especially in a commercial slash sales world where it's about some other person's product, like my body is used to sell someone else's product and that's a podcast onto itself. There's a lot, a lot to unpack in there, but when it's yours and you have the freedom to do whatever you want, you also have the pressure to have to make it in like represent you perfectly. So I really like that you were able to release the control of like, Nope, Nope. I'm not gonna choreograph that. Nope. I'm not gonna do that part. Nope. Not gonna do that part. And that is probably at least a very small part of what makes you a great leader. Um, the willingness and ability to release. Oh shoot. <laugh>.
Speaker 2 00:47:59 So I was still doing a bit
Speaker 0 00:48:01 Much. Is there a, is there a like, oh no, I love doing it all. Or is there a like, mm, gimme 75%. <laugh>
Speaker 2 00:48:09 There's a part of me right now that knows what I need to relinquish. I think for a while I was doing all the things I liked doing all the things and maybe also I felt like I was proving myself in a way, but what I've learned right now is that I don't have anything to prove in that same way. And uh, support having support is great for my mental state, for my physical state and that I can show up and fulfill the responsibilities of my job without adding extra responsibility, just for, you know, who no one asked me to do that. And so then there's an extra level of stress involved and all of that stuff that that's like a current, that's a very current lesson that I'm in right now. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. But back in the day I was doing all the things, you know, because I was an entrepreneur, I made my own hours. And so, you know, I'd be up at two, am doing a thing or I'd be, you know, you just get the job done. And so I didn't really feel any kind of way about that lifestyle. I would just get it done. And mm-hmm <affirmative> um, I, maybe it wasn't the best in terms of, you know, my, my physical, but, but that's, that's what fed me at the time. But right now I'm definitely thinking self first family, binge job mm-hmm
Speaker 0 00:49:49 <affirmative>
Speaker 2 00:49:50 And one of the biggest things I'm seeking right now is rest in some form or fashion, um, and going
Speaker 0 00:49:59 On,
Speaker 2 00:50:00 Going on vacation and not working while I'm on vacation,
Speaker 0 00:50:03 I'm not laughing at you. I'm I'm I'm with you. I'm just I'm so with you.
Speaker 2 00:50:08 But yeah, that's how I feel about that. Like, I, I don't, uh, I don't want to do all the things anymore and, but I, I do know that I'm, I, I am capable of doing many different things, but I don't necessarily need to do them all at once. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, that's the thing. I don't wanna wear mini hats at once anymore.
Speaker 0 00:50:32 No, it looks crazy. I've done it.
Speaker 2 00:50:34 <laugh> it it, yeah. Yeah. But I do wanna go back to something you were saying before about, uh, dancers feeling like they have to choose one thing, and this is kind of, uh, a new realization. It's not really new, but just something I've wanted to share with dancers now that we're in this mm-hmm, <affirmative> post pandemic kind of still in pandemic state, and also how the industry has shifted a bit. If a dancer can find, uh, an additional skill set that is, um, necessary for any artist to, to have like photography, videography, styling, lighting, design, editing, editing, these are very important positions that you can get paid well for. And listen, the people who are doing this are booked a lot of the time. So like even, you know, I, I like to have, you know, a roster, whether it's for dancers, I have a whole database, a casting database that I made for myself of dancers and yeah.
Speaker 2 00:51:54 And during dear white people, I ran, like I ran out like of dancers often because the dancers were working, you know, the few jobs that were happening, you know, they were books. And then I, I, I was fortunate enough to meet some new dancers I hadn't worked with before. So I do, I, I I'm building that for collaborators as well, which includes all of those people, even stage managers, these are key positions that, you know, honestly, some people have left. The industry are gone into television and film in terms of like live performance, they've gone in different directions or maybe they've moved away from LA. So there's a lack of people available for the work that's needed. Mm-hmm <affirmative>. And if for, for instance, actually, uh, the Cocos designers for, uh, dancing in snow, LA's dancing and snow, it's the first time that they've worked with really wonderful work.
Speaker 2 00:52:46 It's the first time that they've worked with the company, they are recent college graduates and our main costume designer, Kelsey Vick, who we normally work with was not able to work with us, cuz again, you know, like I said, people are booked, but she ha wants to mentor dancers into the world of costume design. She's over the costume design department, uh, department at Cal state long beach. So she was the costume consultant and shepherded them through the process. They did the work, but that's an incredible opportunity. And one of the main people, main things people talk about are the costumes of the show and mm-hmm <affirmative> they're dancers. Like they, they have dance degrees. Um, and so I think it's a, it's a key example of having something else that you might be interested in, but that you could really be working on a, on a high level at any point also, cuz there's, there's like headshot photography and then there's event photography. Those are separate skill sets. And um, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, you know, there's a lack of people who are, are good at it. So if you can get good at any of these skills, like train, get some training, you can be doing your dance thing. And when the dance thing isn't happening, you could be making some good money doing the other thing so that I wanted to put that out there. Cause it's hard out here. A lot of people are booked
Speaker 0 00:54:13 <laugh> thank you for that. Yeah. That, and that's such an empowering position to know that you can be really good at something else and that there's a need for, uh, a lot of talent in this big world that we live in. Um, so keep becoming and keep being talented and keep being booked. We love <laugh> that, but we also love taking vacations. Thank you for putting an emphasis on rest family balance, all this balance, right. Mm-hmm
Speaker 2 00:54:41 <affirmative>
Speaker 0 00:54:41 Right. I, I did also I wanted to say one more thing and now it's lost. Hold on. You were oh yes. I'm realizing in, in you, I see a puzzle master, you like small pieces, you have your database of humans and you're just looking for where to put the pieces and I love this. I think it, it is, it is a perfect position for you to be in an artistic director to be able to see big picture and work on small details. Um, I, I, it makes so much sense to me. I'm so happy for you. It was incredible to see you dance in the show, but also know that you are, uh, the, the conductor of the organization. It's just, I'm, I'm remarkably happy for you and proud of you. Not that any of that has to do with any of me at all, but you, you know, I feel a sense of like, oh, look at her being the example of like how you can do it, of like, of how things can go. Um, and I'm just thrilled for you. Thank you again for being here and sharing. And I hope everyone goes out to see, uh, LA contemporary dance company specifically. This work is so very important. Uh, thank you for, for giving me your time today.
Speaker 2 00:55:59 Thank you so much, Dana.
Speaker 0 00:56:01 Ah, you're welcome. I hope to see you very soon and let's jam let's jam jam
Speaker 2 00:56:06 For real, for real. That's what I was gonna say. Um, I wanted, I wanted continue to get connected to more like minded creatives like yourself. So,
Speaker 0 00:56:16 Oh, let's talk about the ways we can do that. Um, a C D C does have open classes, correct? Mm-hmm <affirmative> mm-hmm <affirmative> and in, and the summer intensive has that happened already?
Speaker 2 00:56:25 No, the summer intensive is in July. I'm at the end of July.
Speaker 0 00:56:29 Excellent. Okay. I will be linking to the summer intensive to classes, to you, to where we can find more of your work. Um, and yes, I, I hope to be connecting you to a bunch of young dance links on the other side of this microphone and for us to be more connected too. Cause I've known you for many, many years, but this is, this was delicious. Thank you so much.
Speaker 2 00:56:51 You're welcome.
Speaker 0 00:56:54 I'll talk to you soon. Bye.
Speaker 0 00:57:03 Wow. Yep. Jimmy is fabulous. I hope you learned a lot from that episode. Certainly some key takeaways to me that I, that I wanted to like refocus on and even go deeper on for myself. Is this idea of getting into you versus getting into a festival? Like, can we just get into the thought that we had when we were like, Ooh, I should make a, this, and can we just get into ourselves and our values instead of thinking about what will get us into the festival, the cool kids club, like get into you instead of trying to get into other things. I don't know how, how hell I was better to say it. Jamila was so eloquent. Um, but that was huge. I also loved finding that Jamila is this puzzle master and always has been like, for example, I have always been a person who really loved <laugh> old.
Speaker 0 00:58:03 T-shirts like holy old t-shirts there's not much value in that. Like I don't know if that's really helped me in my career the same way as being a, a puzzle problem solver has helped Jamila, but I am always interested to find like the things that carry over from childhood that have left residual impact on adult life. I think Jamila is certainly a person who can see the big picture and, you know, keep orderly the small pieces. I love that she has a personal database of, uh, dance types and other professional types that she likes to work with. If you are a person that wants to be on that database, be training with her. I will link to Jamila to the LA contemporary dance company. So you know exactly where to find your way <laugh> onto Jimmy's database and into spaces where there is real awesome and important work being done. Again. I hope you get your butts to go see a C this weekend or later on in life, tremendous work, marvelous dancers and, um, some really exceptional leadership from Jamila. So hats off a C D C hats off to all of you. Get out into the world and keep it exceptionally funky. I'll talk to you soon. Bye.
Speaker 0 00:59:35 This podcast was produced by me with the help of many music by max Winney logo and brand design by Bree res and a big thanks to Riley Higgins, our executive assistant and editor, and also a massive thanks to you. The mover who is no stranger to taking action, I will not stand in the way of you taking action. I will not cannot stop you from downloading episodes or leaving a review and a rating. I cannot keep you from visiting the Dana wilson.com to join our mailing list. I will not ban you from my online store for spending your hard earned money on the cool merch and awesome programs. That'll await you there. And of course, if you wanna talk with me, work with me and make moves with the rest of the words that move me community, I will 100% not stop you. Visit the Dana wilson.com to become a member and get a peak at everything else I do. That is not a weekly podcast. Keep it funky, everyone.