Intro: Welcome to Words That Move Me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you, get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, Dana Wilson, and I move people. I am all about the tools and techniques that empower tomorrow's leaders to make the work of their dreams and live a full life while doing it. So whether you're new to the game or transitioning to your next echelon of greatness, you're in the right place.
Dana: Hello. Hello my friend. Welcome to words that move me. I'm Dana. I'm stoked you're here. As always. Um, I really do think, I think it's pretty cool that you could be anywhere. And right now you are in two places, <laugh>. You are here with me and you are wherever it is that you are, tap into that check in with where you're at.
Take a look around. You are there, and you are here <laugh>, and we are off to a strong start. Um, I'm really, really proud of you. I'm really stoked that you're here and I'm excited to talk to you today because speaking of tapping in Ayesha Orange is making her podcast debut here on words that move me, and she crushes it. I'm really stoked on her. I think being on a podcast, it's not an easy thing. Y'all being a guest is not an easy thing. She really nailed it. Um, you are in for a treat because Ayesha and I are continuing conversations about being an associate choreographer and an assistant choreographer. And we also talk about way more than those topics. Um, you will get Ayesha's audition philosophy. You'll hear the old school dancers mindset on social media. Uh, we touch a little bit on privacy and protecting the secrecy of high profile jobs. And Aisha asks and answers this very important question, how does one get work as an assistant and associate? This is the good stuff y'all, and I'm so excited to get into it. But first, we do wins, uh, wins on the podcast every episode. This is how we begin. And today I am celebrating. What am I celebrating today? Oh, I have a good one today. <laugh>,
You're gonna be jealous. Today, I am celebrating possibly the first ever tax planning meeting that went well. Like I'm teasing. As I tell you this, I am grinning ear to ear because number one, it's December and I had a tax planning meeting. And number two, this is the actually the more important part. I had a pre-meeting for the meeting, so I had questions prepared. I got answers. Now I have homework. I'm gonna have more questions. I'm gonna get 'em answered. I am feeling good. It was awesome. So this holiday season, I will not wish for happiness. I will not wish for gifts. I won't even wish for all of you to make a tax deductible donation towards that move me jk. I will, but I'll do that later. Um, in the WINS section. I am gonna wish for you all to have the best tax preparation of your life this year. Boom. That's my win. That's my wish for you. Now you go, what are you celebrating? What's going well in your world?
Yay. Congratulations, my friend. I am excited for you. I hope that you are winning in the tax ways, but also in all of the ways. All right, let us get into it, shall we? Last week, my dear friend Jeff Mortenson and I had a great conversation about working on top tier choreography teams, kind of, uh, the the difference between certain teams and certain projects, and the difference between the responsibilities of an associate choreographer and an assistant choreographer. This week, the fabulous Ayesha Orange offers a whole new perspective on that subject. Such a valuable perspective, such a valuable human being. I am so excited. So without any further ado, here is the one and only Ayesha Orange. Okay, let's do this. Ayesha Orange. Welcome to the podcast.
Dana: I am so excited that you are here. I'm so grateful for your time and I am understanding that this is your first podcast ever.
Ayesha: It is. I am nervous and excited and I can't wait. I'm so grateful that it is with you.
I am honored and I'm so excited to, we're just gonna, I, you know, I'm a chatty Kathy. I can talk <laugh> for great lengths, and I know you and I have a lot to cover. Um, I'm gonna try to stay focused because I have a feeling I could go a thousand different ways. Um, but I, I specifically want to talk to you about, well, the podcast is about creative careers, but what it's really about is learning. And, um, I think I have a lot to learn from you. I think my listeners have a lot to learn from you. I'm excited to hear what you have to say. But before we do any of that, or kind of off to a hard start, but I'm gonna ask you to introduce yourself with whatever it is you would like us to know. That may be credits, it may not be. It may be, um, a, a a a poem. I have had guests say, I am a human in the world, <laugh>, and I accept. Um, but I will yield the floor and let you tell us anything you want us to know about you.
Okay. I am Ayesha Orange. I am a dancer, associate choreographer, and a movement director. And, um, whatever it has to do with movement and music, I do. So I don't know how to introduce myself with other than that. <laugh>, I do it all.
She's a movement and music machine and Right. Um, I love that and I'm excited to get into the nooks and crannies of that. Um, but I want first, kind of wanna go back because I only have known you in my adult life. Uh, I think a lot of my guests I've known for many, many, many, many years. Um, but I would love to hear a little bit about your training, how you got involved with the Majesties of Music and Movement, and how that training prepared you for what you are doing today.
Okay. I feel that I am a special case because I started a little bit later. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I was a cheerleader and I was in drill team in high school. And my friend Salva Solo was taking privates from the amazing Paula, uh, Morgan. So he would teach me some things that he would learn. And then he said, I'm going to audition for this team company. And the team company person was Marrie Dereks. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I auditioned to be in the company. I was terrible, but she was like, I hope that you know you're gonna stay. And I made it. So while I was doing the team company, this was when Bobby Ball was around mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm. <affirmative> and Julie McDonald had a roommate, and they took, he took my pictures. David Hamlin took my pictures and she was like, I will represent you. And Marguerite helped me with classes, and I would babysit for child for some money, Uhhuh <affirmative> to pay for classes. And I got an agent through the company. And I would just take class. I would take Doug Caldwell, I would take Alex Magno. I would take anyone that would Bill Bowl. I just took class and I was there. I would take the bus from San Pedro to North Hollywood. A lot of it is a lot of luck and
Yeah. So I feel that I learned a lot about dance by doing it. Yeah. Not necessarily, of course I trained, you know, with all of these amazing teachers. But yeah, I learned about television and film and touring and all of that by just like, doing it. Yeah. So auditions were a lot of my training, seeing people around me, seeing who would get, kept seeing what they did, what they would want from me. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, how I can be different from them by being me. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And, and then I just started working.
Mm-hmm. Okay. I talk a lot about auditions on the podcast. This isn't where I thought we might go today, but now I'm dying to hear, because you have, as you mentioned, you've worked in so many avenues of what I would call the entertainment industry, be it tours, commercials, film, but you've also done airfare share of stage. I know this because <laugh>, I don't like to advertise this, so I'm a fool for broadcasting it on the podcast. I occasionally will edit a real or two. And I edited Dom Kelly's reel this past year. And you are in it doing the fiercest lama I've ever seen <laugh>, um, as part of, I believe it was the cast of Oklahoma, right?
Uhhuh <affirmative>. It was, it was actually the promotion for it.
Oh, okay. So you were not in the, in the show itself?
I was not in the show itself, but I did do fame, the musical work. Um, I've worked on, I I do it. Yeah,
You do it. I have things. Okay. So, and I think that that is usually the goal of as aspiring dance types is like to do everything. I don't know very many aspiring dancers who are like, I really, really want to do limited run commercials. <laugh>, everybody's like, I wanna be in movies and commercials, and I wanna go on tour and I wanna blah, blah. Um, so being a person who has, what would you advise or encourage people auditioning in the world? Because now you're on the other side of the table most of the time, um mm-hmm. <affirmative>, but you've also been on the floor, you know, the feeling of both sides. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, what's, what's your audition? Still do it philosophy. Do Right. Still do it. Yeah.
Um, that's a hard one because when I am, what I learned through auditioning is, okay, so this is logistics. They need da, da, da, da, da amount of black girls. So then these are the black girls that I always see mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And each black girl has their own thing. That is fantastic. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So what do I bring to the table? I bring me, what do I have? I have legs. I have my buttery arms. I have the training that I had. So I give that, and then I let it go because it doesn't matter. They may hire the person that has been dancing for three weeks, but they love their look. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, <affirmative>, you know what I mean? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So you go in, you give you Yeah. And your interpretation of whatever, and then you <laugh>, it's, you gotta let it go.
I love this.
It's nothing personal.
Yes. I, I love this advice. And I love, I, I had, when I was auditioning a lot as a dancer, a post audition routine, which was to go immediately do something very human. And I don't think that artists are very human. Um, and so by human I mean like take a walk in a park with a dog or like get a frozen yogurt, treat with someone who's not a dancer, go to the library and check out a book. Like doing something so human. That kind of, it that helped me to let go in addition to the mental around you, uh, like the thought work of letting my expectations releasing those. Yes. Um, gentle, kind self-talk versus jealousy comparison. Um, hypotheticalizing. Yes. Like doing all the what ifs or hows. So I've found that that really human action sort of helped me with the let go phase.
But the thing mm-hmm. That you said that I think is most important is the knowing your features part, like knowing your Eunice and then putting that forward, introducing that Eunice, the legs, the buttery arms, the, uh, flirtatious, but not, um, not, uh, um, like gonna cross a boundary. Like, I think that there's something about commercial specifically where you must be an attractive person, but very few commercials portray or are looking to portray the overtly sexy woman. It's all very clean, family fun. But you, but you must still be attractive. So I see you as being a person who's really nailed that line of being fully woman and fully attractive without threatening anyone. Um, or, you know, I, I don't know. I'll probably r kick myself in the ass for saying that word without being threatening, but I hope, you know what I mean?
I do. Without crossing a line.
<laugh>. Well, there's different things. There's different people. There's different jobs, right? So for commercial work, you know that this, it's happy-go-lucky land. They're trying to sell a product, whereas we're on, you're on stage, you're like performing for that person and you're big. Yeah. You know, or you know, whatever the particular circumstance needs, when you're on stage in a club, you're gonna give that hot ha you know, I've done all of the burlesque things that you can think of, and it's a whole different mind frame.
Totally. Right. So that's the thing. Okay. So knowing thy self and knowing thy, uh, audience, the audience that I seen, the scope of work. Um, so this is huge. I'm so glad you brought that up. Uh, I also am riveted to hear you saying some of these names and talking about your training as a dancer. Um, like in your training was in dance class, and that's your foundation. And then your training was on set. And those are two different worlds of training. And as you were talking, I was reminded of, um, um, bill Pruit won the, I might get this wrong, lifetime achievement recognition. Some special recognition Yes. He did at the World's Choreography Awards. And he had a speech, and I took notes because I was in shambles afterwards. It was so beautiful and poignant and funny. And Oh, he's so perfect. I love the way he speaks.
Um, so here's, here's the gist of it. Bill said, back in those days, like in the, in the old Edge days, you took class all the time and you were a dancer. That's what it meant to be a dancer. And today people take class to be a professional person, like working in the world. Like, like, like we're taking class and reserving that all be a dancer someday when I get booked. Right now I'm just taking class. And his point was like, no, the dancer was in that room, like the dancer was happening then. And I feel that change that I remember Old Edge, the room upstairs, um, you know, the, the room the Doug called Well room Yeah. On Cole? Yep. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Yes. And that room was full of dancers. I don't know how many of them were working professionally were hired or paying their bills from dance. But you could not mistake that that was a room full of dancers. And today it feels very different. I, I recently heard the term coined, um, performance media. Like Instagram is performance media. TikTok is performance media that these like, you know, set up the phone and perform. And it feels a little like, class is becoming like a training ground for performance media versus the place where you actually do the thing are a dancer in that room. And Right. I'll step off
Know, it's funny, I remember, I remember when that change started to happen. What was it? What was, I remember it was an Andre Fuentes class at that edge. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. We were all in dance class, and he asked us to improvise, and one girl did a back handspring. And I remember thinking, who was that for? Hmm. We're in dance class. Who was that for? And I always felt like dance class was the safe space where you can just mess up and learn. You can fall on your butt across the floor, you get up and several go again many times. Right. But now that the camera is there and everyone is posting mm-hmm. <affirmative>, where is the freedom mm-hmm. <affirmative> in messing up learning. So, and that was, I mean, 2000 something, God rest your soul mm-hmm. <affirmative> and thankfully, huh, I may get in trouble for this, but thankfully I'm showing my age. I didn't succumb to it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I knew that this was my space ah, to do this. Yes. And that audition, like that Audi, that's why I learned how to audition in auditions. You're not learning how to auditions and dance class. Hmm. My opinion, my opinion.
Well, it's a wonderful example that that's an option. Like you can choose that. Hmm. Like, you can choose that as your thought. I will not succumb to this though. This will not be my, um, reality. My reality, I, I have a philosophy that cameras, or what I tell myself about cameras is that they are plastic and glass.
<affirmative>, that's what they are. I am absolutely. I am blood and guts and thoughts and ideas, and I am superior <laugh>. So I I, it no longer has the same power over me that it once had. Well said. It sure did. It, it really intimidated me. The thought of foreverness, the thought of, you know, its one lens would become millions of eyeballs. Like, that thought was really intimidating. And that is like partially, it's equally true that that is as true as it's glass and plastic. But when I think of it as glass and plastic, it's much easier for me to take the empowered position. And so that's how I, that's how I jam on that
<laugh>. Nice. I've unfortunately, uh, haven't been, I'm not with the tines, oh, I don't know if it's fortunate or not, but I still have that safe space. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> of not giving a shit. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> <affirmative>. Because I'm not looking for your TikTok. I don't, you could Sure, sure. Film it, whatever. I'm not, when I, I, I would go to class, um, this is of late and I would film myself mm-hmm. <affirmative>, and of course I may share it mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But my dancer, mind, my old school dancer, mine, I go home and I'm watching myself. Yes. What could I have done better? Yes. Where, Ooh, on this part, I look like this. I need to work on my back. Ooh. I need to, okay. I need to like, oh. You know what I mean? That's
Yeah. The tool. I would much rather use it for that, than to sell myself. And it's, you have to sell yourself this right this way nowadays. Yeah. It's what it's, but I'm grateful that I am, I know that it's not my ways of money.
And I can enjoy it a little bit more. That's cool. I like what I, I like thinking of it as a tool for, like you said, self, self assessment as well as self promotion. And if you can be at the control panel of, of which is which, and how much to a degree that you're comfortable with, then work. I'm, I'm all for it. I, I, starting to understand cameras was a huge change in starting to understand my artistic voice. Um, as a young person, I didn't, I, I thought of myself as bad with technology and then I fell in love with an optical engineer, <laugh>. And I started understanding a little bit more and, uh, really changing my story about my understanding of technology helped me change the way I create stuff. Um, and I think cameras and dance on camera obviously are tremendously powerful. You know this better than anyone cuz you spend a lot of time there. Um, but in the training space, it does some interesting things, doesn't it?
Absolutely. Hmm. You've gotta kind of differentiate the safe place of, of learning. Yeah.
From, from a promote from Yeah. Learning place versus sales place. Um, exactly. Yeah. It's huge. Okay. So maybe that is a good segue though, into the dance on camera world. I get tons and tons of questions about being a part of a choreography team as an associate and as a, uh, and as an assistant. And actually last week on the podcast, I talked to my good friend Jeff Mortenson about this. But I want as many points of reference as possible, because what Jeff and I came to find is that there's no one way to choreograph, therefore, there's no one way to assist or to be the best associate. Like, projects are infinitely different, people are infinitely different. So when you put different people on different projects, it's doubly, infinitely different. So I would love to hear you, if you, if you could take a stab at demystifying the role of an associate and the role of an assistant, because I know you serve in both of these positions all of the freaking time.
Right? Hmm. You know, I try to figure out what the difference is mm-hmm. <affirmative> between associate and assistants. Um, and I wish that I had a better answer than this.
<laugh>. Oh, I can't wait. I don't, yeah. I go in and I give what is needed. I, I, I,
that's probably a terrible answer, but
I don't think so at all.
If, if a, if an choreographer, I just did a job where I was an assistant mm-hmm. <affirmative> and in other jobs with this choreographer, Lisa, Lisa Eaton. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I am an associate. Sometimes I am a coco choreographer, but in this assistant instance mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I was there simply for assistants. Yep. So on another job, I may be there with the casting with, for the, for the, you know, location to, for the interaction between dancer and agent interaction between agent and producer, helping with the choreography, giving some choreography that is an associate I am assuming. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that's, you know, whereas with this one, it was all her. I had to assist with simply choreo counts. That's it. Seeing what's on the monitors, seeing if something is needed. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, that's it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And that was this job. So I don't know if that demystifies, but I feel that that is the difference between,
Yeah. I, or at least, at least a difference between on a job. But I think that, like, the way that I see that hierarchy working is that, you know, if, if the very top of the pyramid is the choreographer, and if it's a multi choreographer team, then that person would be the supervising choreographer at the tip tip top. I think that those people should be able to do all of the things that the people working under and alongside of them can do. So that is to say like a supervising choreographer can book a dancer, book a dance studio, set up the dance studio, get your own damn coffee <laugh>. But Right. Most of the time when you have a full pyramid, a well shaped round, well-rounded team, you have people in the assistant position who should be able to rent a studio space, set it up, book a dancer, um, break down tables, chairs, um, print scripts or sides, uh, um, clean counts, transfer dance information.
I call it aka teach the steps. Um, and an associate who might be seen as being the next rung up should be able to and prepared to do all of those things. Plus, in my mind, contribute full phrases, uh, from, from time to time. Maybe not all of the time, but I think they sh I think an, an associate should be prepared and is expected to contribute phrases or numbers and offer creative vision. That's a big one. That is a distinguishing factor for me. I think once I am asked for my creative vision, for my creative decision making or problem solving skills, then I think that that is more than the service of an assistant. Um, but that's just me. Uh, yeah. What I, what we talked about last week, Jeff and I was, uh, the choreographer's guild becoming up and running and becoming a powerful thing.
And one of the things we're working on internally is we're working on definitions of these roles for ourselves internally and for the outside world. Because if you can, you know, you and I are here trying to explain this thing to each other, and we've been doing it for 20 years, 15 years. Imagine how hard it is for people on the outside who have no idea what we do to make that distinction. So I think it's important that, that we start and are having this conversation so that we understand it better, but so that the world does too.
Agreed. I, I, I think that this is new. I have only seen the associate role and it being called an assistant. So all I know is doing all of that mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So now that it is being broken down a little bit more because it needs to, we, we, we deserve to be recognized. Well usually assistance and and associates aren't at all. There isn't, there's never been a hierarchy between assistant and associate. You just did it. What was needed. So, exactly. Exactly. So to me, this is wonderful cuz now I know that this whole time I've been an associate <laugh>, it's an associate more than just an assistant because I've been doing it. That's how I was trained and taught. Yeah.
Yeah. Well, and this might, this kind of leads to my next question, <laugh>, which might be hard for you because I'm gonna ask you to get a little bit full of yourself. I, you, you from my outside in. Okay. So let me back up cuz we haven't really done like the bullets, but you've worked with the weekend, Miguel, SIA, Christina Aguilera, you've worked on some of my favorite shows, including Euphoria and Dear White People. I'm really stoked on that. Um, and commercials out the actual ass. So <laugh> y you're in there doing the things. And my next question, well, a lot of the times you're in an assistant or associate role and I think that you like that. I think that you choose that. Is that true?
Explain that to me.
Oh, you know, it's, I really, really enjoy, this is gonna sound weird, <laugh>, I really enjoy be cultivating a vision. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I enjoy not having the pressure of making up all of the vision and the dance moves. And when what I feel I am good at is intuitively going into the choreographer's mind and seeing what they are seeing and adding to it. Now while I'm adding to it, I may be off. That's okay. I'm not that, I'm not them. I don't have their vision. I am trying to cultivate their vision through my mistakes. This is a huge one. Through my being wrong and going in a different direction, they now know securely which direction they're going in, which solidifies the vision. Right. So I'm like, what about this? What about that? Mm, that's good, but I think I want this. And then that happens. Or Ooh, that's a good idea.
That's a really good idea, but what if we put this with that? Yeah. And then the vision is cultivated. So I like the intuition of it all. I love the, I love that I can work with Ryan and he has that genius mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then I can work with Nina and then she can have that genius. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then there's Jimmy, like each and every one has their own way mm-hmm. <affirmative> of working on way of booking their own mm-hmm. <affirmative> way. And it's my job as an associate to tap in, tap in to them. Yeah. Not only their vision, but them their their way.
Their way. Yeah. Exactly. So I like that. It's kind of like a dance job. When you go on a job and you do someone's choreography, you're doing micro Ronny, big beautiful group production. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then you can, that job ends and then you go to this person and it's Margarite and you're going, ha ha ha. Okay, well you gotta let go of that Mar Rooney shit. And now it's time for Margarite shit. You know what I mean? Yes. And then you tap into that. That's what I enjoy.
Hmm. I love, I love that you're using your strength of a, of your dancer strength of being adaptable and trans, transferring that into an assistant associate strength of being, also being adaptable. But I think the difference there is with more responsibility and with the responsibility of being a leader versus on a dance job, you are there almost exclusively to follow, you follow the choreographic directive and you get the job done, done in that way. But in the assistant associate role, you do still have to follow and you have to lead.
Yes. And you have to contribute. You Yes. And a dancer, you're interpreting, but as an associate, you are contributing. So I really enjoy that.
I just spelled interpreting, I'm taking notes as we talk. So that makes my job easier later when I have to write all the captions for this. This is so good. Yes. Interpreting. Uh, versus contributing.
I wanna go back also, cuz I loved what you said about your, um, the way you think of being off in your interpretation of someone's vision is actually a part of the refining process. I love that you don't beat yourself up for being wrong in your interpretation. I love that you think of that as an essential part of the process. That speaks very loud, my friend.
Well, that is something that I am still learning. I still beat myself up. <laugh>,
Don't get it twisted. <laugh>
Don't get it twisted. Absolutely. I still feel like, you know, shit, I'm, I'm the worst,
But, you know. Yeah. But, um, yeah, no, I now I am, I now know that it is that even if the choreographer is like, like frustrated with me mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I know deep down that me being wrong is still a good thing. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. I truly feel that deep in my heart. <laugh>, That's just me. And it's just me.
I love this. I I'm taking so many notes. <laugh>.
I, that might be the title of the episode. How being wrong can be a good thing even when there is tremendous pressure on you to deliver and mm-hmm. <affirmative>, there's also this unspoken expectation that the assistant and associate and or associate is a mind reader. Like, like, hey, what did Chris want for this that? And I'm like, I can't tell you, uh, <laugh>, I do not know.
That's part of the job too, right?
That's, that's why I said tap in mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because I am supposed to be a mind reader. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But I am unable to be a mind reader because I am Ayesha and I'm not psychic <laugh>, I am psychic actually, but in, not in every way,
But not in, not in every professional setting. I cannot read your mind. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But I do know how to tap in to your view to align with what you are wanting and interpret, or I should say, contribute what I think that you want. And if, like I said, if I am off, that's gotta be okay. Cuz I am not you.
This is huge. I love this. That insight is massive. Thank you, thank you, thank you. So clearly you are an intuitive and emotional, a responsible and a really creative partner I think in this game. But I'm gonna ask you another hard question now cuz we've kind of covered like the way you work and the way that other people work. Now I'm gonna ask for you to get a little full of yourself and predict why it is that the people who love working with you love to work with you.
Oh God. Okay.
I know, I know. But you know, they do because you,
This is like, I can honestly say that. I don't know. <laugh>.
Ok. Ok. This is perfect. Ayesha. This is perfect. Hold that thought. Hold that thought. So I have a new policy. I am enforcing a tax on the words. I don't know. I see them as being kind of a pacifier that you hold in your mouth that keep you from being able to speak. Yeah. And when you say, I don't know, I think you stop yourself from knowing and even a small adjustment like, oh, I'm so curious about why I'm open to knowing, or my brain is offering me that I, that I don't have any evidence on that. But I'm sure if I thought long enough I could tell Oh yeah. Ryan once told me that he really likes the way I take feedback. So he probably, you know, something like that. So I'm gonna call you out. You okay? Do know, or at least you can be open to knowing. You can get curious enough to find out a little bit why, why, why the people who love working with you love working with you.
Well, I can only say I, my Jamila told me that she likes working with me because of the support that I gave. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, and I, I, I say my friend Jamila, because I j i I, I don't wanna say I don't know anymore, but <laugh>, I don't because you don't wanna be taxed. Why? Yeah. <laugh>. Yeah. I, I don't, I cannot say why and I, it makes me wanna call. Yeah. My Ryan, you're like, why do you hire me
<laugh>? What do you love about working with me?
Right. That's a weird question to ask, but I would love to know. What Jamila has told me is when she was in a c uh, in a situation where she felt against the wall mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I said, how can I help? What do you need? And then she told me, and therefore I can help like I did, and this is gonna be my weirdo psychic self <laugh>, let's go. I did a spread. I was very nervous cuz I had never done episodic work. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> in that capacity of dear white people. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and I knew that I, that Jamil and I worked well together because of bad hair. We did the movie bad hair. And during bad hair, she told me thank you for being that support and pushing me like in a, in that space. And, and what if I, if she were to look at me, I can like road dog her mm-hmm. <affirmative>
And be like, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. This is what you meant, or Yeah, you said this and blah, blah, blah, blah. I'm like the, the, the road dog. I got you. I, when I can finish what you, when I see you blank, I can fill it in. Especially if it's in front of the producer, the director, the, the people you don't wanna look like you don't know. And I'm here to support you. And during Dwe White Dear Wheats, dear White people <laugh>, I did a spread and the little angels spread. And it's said, it said to me, just ask how may I serve? And going in, like how can I, how may I serve you? What do you need? And right now you need some eight counts. Got it. You need me to call the ad. Got it. You're stuck on this eight and you need a seven. Okay. I've got it. You know what I mean? So I think now that I'm talking about it, I may be hired because of the way I serve.
Doesn't that feel, feel better? I'm gonna keep that, doesn't that feel better than, I don't know.
<laugh>. I'm hoping that that is what is. Yeah.
Yeah. Okay. Do you know what else? I think I, I, I am totally guessing and now I'm like pull, this is like, I'm probably possibly all the way off, but because I know what it means to be in the room, I know what it means to be in the privileged position of leadership on a big creative work. There is a lot at stake. There are a lot of egos. There are a lot of big, big public people having very private moments. And it's very possible that your lack of subscription to the social media world is also an asset about you. Because I would have less confidence bringing people into that room who have a big mouth on social media who are sharing every detail of every day. I think there's a lot to be said about the secrecy of a project and about privacy and protecting privacy.
Speaker 0 00:42:31 Um, especially of so many of the high profile people that we wind up working with. That that might be, um, might be something I could be making that up. But as I'm listening to you talk about yourself and what you get into and what you don't get into, I see that as a plus on this front. I think it's really great for dancers to be very public and put themselves out there in all the ways, but you see less and less and less of that, the higher up the food chain you get, forgive me for the, that brutal language, but, um, I get it. I see less of it probably because people are more busy, but also because the majority of the hours of their day are spent working on things that they can't share or talk about. So,
Agreed. That's a thought. Agreed. I'll offer that you take it or leave it.
Thank you. I also feel that the people, the higher ups aren't caring what you are saying they basis, they're not hiring you for that meal that you posted or that you know, that that photo shoot that you just had, um, you know, or that, that piece that you put together with your friends, you know what I mean? I don't know if they're necessarily hiring on those grounds.
It's, you know, I could be wrong. I, I did hear of an, I now believe that people are asking how many followers people have in order.
That's a thing.
To get Hired, that's a thing. I am not, gratefully have not been a part of that. I was before that and I am now where I am, where, like I said, I've, I've known these people for years and mm-hmm. <affirmative>, they trust me in that capacity instead of needing to see my social world.
They know me as the artist, the dancer, the whatever mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I don't, I never really needed to sell myself in that way. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So Yay.
<laugh>. So awesome. Great. Yeah.
<laugh>. Um, Okay. If you had to break down into a ratio of like your working time, how much time would you say you spend on the choreography team versus on camera at this chapter of your life right now?
Um, it is equal. I, I just did a television show, uh, with Chris Judd.
Um, called that girl Lek. And then a couple of weeks later I just did this assistant's job with Lisa Uhhuh <affirmative>. So I do more associate work now that I am older, but I can't say that I'm not, I don't wanna s i I still book the occasional dance gig.
I love that. We love balance.
I'm also a mom, so I kind of like have to balance it all, so mm-hmm. <affirmative> getting that as that assistant gig and the dance gig and balancing home as an, as a woman. I don't wanna say my age.
Oh, we don't
I've said my age of my, on this podcast way more times than I care to count. But yeah, the, the balance part is real. And here's like, the emotional and the financial res balance of gigs is real because there are times where yes, it's possible I might make more as a choreographer on the day, but maybe like there are times when I would love to just be, yes, please hire me to do the steps that you said and have no opinions and have to answer no emails. Well that's not entirely true, but like, please give me less responsibility for less money this week. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because I'm at, I'm at bandwidth. Um, and then also there's the whole imbalance of dancers, thanks to our sag after contracts having residual structures and health and pension in place that, you know, on paper, maybe we're making less dollar value per day, but over the lifetime of the job and the lifetime of my body, I do better as a dancer than as a choreographer. And hopefully we'll be seeing that change very soon. But that's the facts today, <laugh>
Well un well I feel for me, of course I, um, I assisted and not of course, but I assisted Nina. There have been years where I would be assisting Nina and not a lot of dance jobs or a year where I would do more dance jobs than assisting, you know, of course it's balance. But as an associate, this is, this is the, this is the problem. How do I work with others? Choreographers have their people, they have their assistant and they carry them everywhere. So how does one become an assistant? Now an assistant unfortunately is not an attainable thing. Everyone wants to, everyone wants to be a choreographer. People don't know this rule could, could pay your bills too. And it's just as fulfilling. Um, but it's hard for an associate to get work. Like, how do I audition for a choreographer that has their, their, their people already whom they, you know what I mean? Yes. So getting work in this way has been a challenge. I have been blessed enough to have worked in this capacity and other people see me doing that work, and therefore they may want me in this way. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But I would love it if like a dancer, I don't wanna audition. Get me, don't, don't get me. Wrong, what you asked for.
Whoa, whoa, whoa,
There. I wish there was a platform where I can sell myself in this way. Interesting. And yeah. Yeah. So I don't know if that answers your question in any way, but I'm just…
it it definitely does. And you asked a few more. You asked and answered a few more really important questions like, how do you get to work with the people that you want to work with? How do you find out what the people you want to work with, how do you find out what they, like, how do you tap into them if they're at a distance? You know, if they've already got their team, if they're, if they're on a job that you're not being hired for. Yeah. How do you know? And I think the, the way you answered it, which was with your placement, with your existing body of work, that's the best thing you've got. And with whatever proximity you have, it's one of my favorite lies that people tell themselves is that they need to network and don't have any connections. Like when somebody says that to me, I actively get upset. I'm like, you're looking me in the face telling me you don't have connections and now I'm embarrassed. And it's clear why you don't have actual connections cuz you're not taking advantage. Oh, no. One's it. You have, um, so this is
A lesson that I learned from Don Kelly.
Hit me. What is this say?
Use your resources. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I am like, I as a dancer have always reveled in humility and humbleness and I never really looked at my career as something that could, should, could be bragged about. And I, I didn't, I didn't use it first foot forward. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you know, and now that I am in this role of associate and I need to accumulate more work mm-hmm. <affirmative> in this capacity. He's like, don't you know so-and-so? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, didn't you do that dancer work job with so-and-so? You should, you should use your reach out. Call reach out. Call reach out. You have literally, you have the phone number here,
Right? Yeah. And if they say No, no, it's, it's, it's fine. We as dancers understand rejection <laugh>. Yeah. One of, but like, use your resources. It was a huge lesson this year.
Awesome. Thank you for sharing that. That is, it's a great answer to that question. Like, how do you get there? How do you get on the team, reach out to the team, their team at team, any team, but certainly telling yourself you don't have a team is not the answer to getting on the team. Huge. <laugh>. Huge. Well, Aisha, thank you so much for weighing in our Oh, we're done. It's fascinating. I mean, we're, we're close. Um, I do have one extra, one actual extra question for you. Um, not extra, but one important question for you. What do you want for yourself and for creatives in the future? What do you hope to see more of? Or what do you hope to, what do you hope to be rid of? Even you're like, jk, we're done, <laugh>.
No, no, no. I love it. I love when people make me search my mind. It's beautiful in there, <laugh>. Yes.
You'll spend some time in there.
Yeah. I spend so much time in there and some for someone to really wanna know what's going on. I'm like, ready, let's go. Because this is something that I've never thought of. Um, what I would love to see in the future for associate choreographers is a place, and that's it. Because we have none. There's nowhere we don't get, we get, sometimes we get scraps like I have been paid out of Nina's pocket. Yeah. In the beginning, you know? Yeah. Like I have, there's no, I, I did a job where they didn't have a place for me. So they had to say that I worked three days a week because of their budget in order to, for me to, I don't know, it was like this weird way to get me paid because there was no platform of anything. The choreographer gets a rate and then so, so where am I? What is where it fluctuates between, I don't know. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, there's no place for associate choreographers. That's it.
Many and I, I will only elaborate by saying mm-hmm. <affirmative>, your choice of the word place and it's many meanings is very mm-hmm. <affirmative> important. No physical place on set, no office. Hello.
Don't even go to a chair. No chair, no trailer. Yeah. If you're working with a well-recognized choreographer, they might have a chair, they might have an office, but you certainly don't <laugh>. Um, do you have a place on the call sheet? Absolutely not. Sometimes choreographers don't either. Actually. We definitely share that. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I Sometimes I'm not on the call sheet
Totally. I, as a choreographer was not on the call sheet of the last TV show. I choreographed. I had to call. I was like, and my call to <laugh>. Uh, and, and as also, I think that's a really important gesture, the call sheet thing. And I'm glad you glad you said that because in some ways, not in all the ways, but in some ways if you can't point to the call sheet, like if I'm not on the call sheet and I'm not in the credits, which is a huge problem that the choreo choreographers guild and our agents and, and many other bodies like individual bodies and group bodies are trying to do away with this language of credit pending productions discretion. But if my name is not in the credits on the actual scroll, and my name was not on the call sheet, it's kind of like it didn't happen. <laugh>, I'm not gonna lie. I like, maybe I have an email thread with my agents, but nobody could say whether or not I was really there on the day and did the work. Like if it really came down to it, I love pointing to a call sheet. It's important. And yeah, we we're oftentimes left off, off, especially assistance and associates.
Absolutely. I will also elaborate on that please. By saying I did something with an artist and I was assisting and she brought in her own movement person mm-hmm. <affirmative> and they got my assistant credit. So, cause I'm not on the call sheet mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> Assistant. Not an associates. Get your ass on a call sheet. It's important.
It's important. Thank you for that ending tip. Um, do you have any, any other words of wisdom you'd like to share with people aspiring to be assistants and associates?
Awesome. Just listen to the episode again. Bring it back from the top. Take notes. <laugh>, Aisha, I would love to do this again sometime. I would love to hear more about the ways you find balance, specifically in being a mom and being a working person. I'm fascinated by this. I I don't even have a pet. I have a few plants and I struggle to, to stay really on top of the balance thing. So I admire you. I think the world of you. Let's do this again sometime.
Yes, please. Always welcomed, always willing.
I love that. I'll talk to you soon my friend.
Okay, my friend. What did you think of that? Are you, are you smitten? <laugh>? I'm smitten. Um, and inspired. I really love what Ayesha had to say about knowing herself, uh, in the context of an audition and putting her her special qualities forward. If you haven't already, actually I challenge you. I dare you pause right here and think, or better yet, say out loud what your special qualities are. What puts you aside, um, in, in terms of auditioning alongside other fabulous dancers who are fabulous dancers. Uh, I do promise this will come in handy someday, so get to it. Really do it. Um, let's see, what else did I love? I loved a lot about this episode. Um, really loved Ayesha's, uh, perspective on working towards at least, but sometimes straight up celebrating her misunderstandings. Um, really love how she reframes her misunderstandings, which could be seen as a fumble, as an essential part of the creative process.
am so stoked on that. And I, I think and I have experienced that when budgets are big and timelines are small <laugh> it is so important to bounce back from negative feedback. Um, please remember, it is less about you, the person and more about how you can better serve the project. It's about you and who you are and your, you know, selfness and more about your actions and how your actions can better serve the project. Ooh, speaking of serving the project, this is the segue I've been waiting for <laugh>. Uh, if you are interested in helping words that move me, serve our community and you're interested in a tax deductible donation, come on through tax preparation, uh, please do consider donating it to our fiscal sponsor, the Dance Resource Center. I will link to the DRC in our show notes and hope that you are excited by all of the fabulous resources there.
But if you're loving the podcast, please consider making that tax deductible donation. Donations through the Dance Resource Center are a $50 minimum donation. So thank you. Thank you in advance for your generous donation. Um, and if you are not able to contribute financially at this time, but would still like to help us move people, please, please, please leave a review and rating or I review or a rating, a review and or a rating. It really helps other people find the podcast and it is so cool for me to hear what moves you. Alright, my friend. That is it for me today. Go out there into the world, keep it very funky and I'll talk to you soon. Bye.
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