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 Dana here. Welcome to the podcast. So stoked that you are here and so stoked to be having a conversation with one of my dearest friends and hugest inspirations. Man, Teddy Forance is a special guy, y'all, and I'm so excited to share this conversation. I, what can I say that dude, sparkles, he shines. He, uh, is, is so going.
He's just a goer. He's always going. I think today I might have uncovered a few of the reasons why Teddy's Energy is slash sea limitless. We do uncover the one thing that Teddy can think of that actually sucks him of energy, the, the, the dementor of Teddy Energy. Well, you'll find out what that is, but first, before we get into this conversation, let's do wins. Today I am celebrating being a student in dance class the night before last and still kind of recovering today, <laugh>, um, Marty, Alka, Misha Gabriel, and Tobias. I believe his last name is El Hammer. But I have to like check some sources. Hold on. I really, I think it's El Hammerer, but I'm not sure because he's from Denmark. So maybe there's a fancy inflection. But, um, those three guys came together to teach a fantastic 74 8 counts of choreography in two hours.
It was probably less than that, but that's what it felt like. Very dense, so musical, so funky, so fresh. Wow. Did feel like my feet were being ripped from the body on top of them. A little bit of pain, a lot of, bit of mental struggle. And it was so much fun to overcome and to manage my mind in the room and to enjoy being surrounded by so many talented dance types. Teddy and I talk about it a little bit in this episode, but I am, it, it, it blows my mind that I haven't seen everything yet. It actually blows my mind that there are still new ways to move the body in space and time, and that I can still be genuinely blown away is so cool. Um, rocked by the three of them and by some of the talent in the room that night. That is my win. That's what I'm celebrating, uh, being in and being around. Fantastic dance. How about you? What is going well in your world? Hit me.
All right my friend. Congratulations. Keep on winning. I have got your back. I am rooting for you from the sidelines of my podcast booth. I'm like shaking the walls in here. I've got a foam finger. It has your name on it. I am cheering for you. Keep crushing it. Okay, now let's talk about crushing it with Teddy Forance because this guy has so many interests and so many, um, so many, you know, areas of interesting work, commercial work, contemporary work. He is definitely an organizer of his community. He is an entrepreneur, he is a business owner. He is a dad. He is so many things, and I, I think anyone who knows Teddy basically thinks of like Teddy Forance being like its own mode. Like there's, you know, chill mode and there's like Creation station and there's go mode, and then there's like Teddy mode. And Teddy Mode is a 12 out of 10 on the go dial. And it was really cool to, um, to talk. I always love chatting with Teddy and it was so inspiring and I think that there's a lot more mindfulness behind his go mode than simply momentum or physical energy. So I'm excited to share this conversation. I hope you enjoy the one and only Teddy Forance.
Dana: You're the first person to do a Dr. Evil during the Awkward Silence. Teddy Florence, welcome to Words That Move Me. Thank you so much for being here, my friend
Teddy: Dana. Always a joy. Always a pleasure. I had to throw that in there for you. Big fan of the movie. Um,
Dana: Big fan of Mike Myers. Big fan of Austin Powers. It feels like very long ago. I haven't watched it in ages. I wonder how, how has it aged? I wonder when was the last time you,
I still laugh at it. Like anytime it will like pop up on like a normal tv we watched. It was a huge part of my childhood, like comedy and just like my dad loved it and like every time he watched it, he would just like crack up laughing so hard. So I was like partially laughing at the movie and my dad just like losing it.
Yes. Right, right. You're laughing at the laughing.
Amazing. Um, okay, well it feels like yesterday we were hanging out having beers in Northampton, east Hampton, north Southeast, west Hampton. Where were
We? <laugh>? We were in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Okay. And c l i is located in
Okay. Which are about how many miles apart?
It's, is it kinda like, like Valley Village in Sherman Oaks? Like Yeah.
Very close to, except it's a little bit quicker to actually, you know, get them without traffic.
Oh, because you're lucky you don't have that Los Angeles Valley traffic. Um, Teddy, I kind of, I I sort of don't even know where to begin cuz you and I have so much history and there's a ton of admiration. I think, I think mutually You and I have been friends for a long time. We just, I we could really go in any direction right now. Um, but I thought we might start at the very beginning. Um, yeah, that was a sound of music reference if you caught that. Good for you. Um,
My kids love that movie. It's so random by the way. We watch it in the car and like, of course I'm driving so I can't watch it, but I hear all the songs and they're like, infatuated so funny. I'm like, wow. Out of all the movies they like put on sound of Music. I'm like, let's do this
Oh, I love, love that you feed your kids sound of music. That is great. Yeah. Um, I actually, I almost forgot, before we start at the very beginning, a very nice place to start. You have to introduce yourself, it's tradition on the podcast. Tell us everything you want us to know about you.
Hi, I'm Teddy Florence. Um, I am an extreme, um, lover of dance. And the art of dance. I'm just infatuated continually and it continues to grow. Uh, I never thought I could love, you know, dance more, but I, I honestly do every day really inspired by everyone in the community. Uh, I'm from South Hampton, Massachusetts here, where I moved back, uh, moved back to recently and I'm a fourth generation dancer. So my great-grandfather started our studio in 1934, so we're celebrating our 89th recital this year. I know, it's a big one. And yeah, I grew up here in, in Massachusetts at my family's studio. Fell in love pretty quickly, uh, with watching classes at my mom's studio, watching her teach and created home. Uh, and just everything that, that, that dance really provided. Um, me as a young, young person, young dancer. Um, and then I, you know, grew up in the competition convention scene, you know, getting to take from so many different teachers, uh, really enjoyed it, of course. And then when I was 17, me and Michael saw me at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals and she said, I think you'd potentially be great for this job I have coming up. Uh, it's for a Greek artist on a VC in Athens, Greece. It's a six month. Oh
My gosh. I forgot all about this.
Oh, yeah, yeah. So I went and auditions and incredible cast of other dancers in it. And so I moved to Athens for about six months and performed there. My parents emancipated me to let me go and, you know, get paid and everything. So got to do that. And that was just of course life changing. Like, you know, Ruthie and Cki who was on the project with us there, she had danced for Madonna and, you know, many artists. She was very seasoned, so she was kind of like my mama bear. And she's like, this eja doesn't always happen. This is kind of an exception, especially with like Mia's choreography and being in Europe in that time. And then Mia hired me to do a sorts of Salle show called Delirium. I did that for about six months and then soon after I started assisting her on, so you think you could dance, uh, with your good seaweed friend Jill? We did the, the bench piece, the, the Sunflower piece together, uh, with
Yeah, it was, it was
Incredible. It's one of my all time favorites.
It's just, it's, it's so good. And, and getting to yeah. Work closely with Jillian on that, you know, transformed into a lot of different things and meeting you and Meg and Tony Testa and just all the people I met in LA when I moved there, um, really brought me into like the commercial realm. Really enjoyed, never thought I would like dance for Janet Jackson or Madonna or Lady Gaga, people like that. But just loved it. And it was not completely outta my comfort zone, but something, you know, I'm like my forte or like my true roots of passion of dance is contemporary dance. So it was really interesting to be in that realm in LA with a lot of you and just experience that side of the industry. Um, but always kept up like in my backyard, in LA or contemporary classes, starting to teach in LA and stuff. Um, and then really found a, a passion for, for teaching and choreography. So I've been doing that mainly for the last, probably about like eight to 10 years. Um, and then we started c l I studios and that became, you know, just the main focus, uh, for myself and our, and our team. And, and then about two years ago, I, I moved back to my hometown to start the conservatory.
Okay. Teddy, that is already such a full life and you are still a young person. Um, you also have a family, you've got two little nuggets. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you seem to have boundless appetite for life and an energy, especially for dance. I have all sorts of questions about how you make decisions, how you find balance. Um, but before I get into that, I want to ask mm-hmm. <affirmative>, because we talked a little bit about goals and when I was visiting C l I, uh, teaching for the conservatory last week or two weeks ago, what is time? Nobody knows. Uh, uh, I did a goal cultivation workshop and you got to pop in and, and talk a little bit about that. You and I spoke about goals. I think they're very important. I don't think they're necessary by any means, but I have a question cuz it sounds like total pop domination was not on your goals list, <laugh>, um, in those early days, did you have big dance aspirations? Did you just follow the flow because you also definitely strike me as go with the flow kind of guy. Um, and the flow is like Whitewater Rapids in Teddy, Florence Sphere, <laugh>. So, yeah. Can you recall or do you remember having a compass? Like what helped you make decisions? Where did were, were you driving after goals or were you kind of following flow or something else altogether? <laugh>
More honestly, more following flow. You know, I was just so infatuated with the way my body felt moving in general and just like a deep research, constant research of like, what can my body do? What am I, you know, really craving? What am I feeling? Um, deathly varied with the flow, but also really hungry for the things that were in front of me and like attacking it in a positive way, in like a healthy way in a sense. Um, and just getting like, I love people. I love talking to people. I love getting to know people. And I think that was like a big part of my, you know, still is, is my experience in the dance community is just like the people, like, they're just so interesting to me. There's so many genius creators, collaborators, just people and human beings in general that I was just getting to know people. And that turned into opportunities. Um, yes, Assisting Mia on the Pulse. Um, Gil Dok, who chore asked for Janet Jackson, uh, was on the convention as well. And mm-hmm. <affirmative>, he saw me in Mia's class and they had a spot on Janet's next tour, her feedback or her rock view tour where they needed a so, uh, soloist, the Bboy and a contemporary dancer and mm-hmm. <affirmative>, he shut up, asked me, he's like, would this be something that you're interested in doing? You know, we need like three improv solos where you come out while she's, you know, changing in intermediately. Um, you would've a character, your name's T five and you're kind of like this chosen warrior to go up against this evil spirit. And I was like, wait, is this, is this real right now? Like, pinch me. Like
Yes, T five, I'm in <laugh>,
T five, let's go. Um, cause it was just like,
Right, how could you have, how could you have ever aspired to be T five? T five would never end up on your goals list because T five is made up by someone else and yet it's so well suited your trajectory and your interests and your freaking talent. Holy smokes.
It was so, it was just such a wild moment. Uh, and then, you know, he said, come in, come and meet Janet. We have an audition for, uh, feedback music video. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And I don't think they knew I was also trained in, you know, street styles and hip hop commercial dance. Um, and cause I, I grew up like a jazz dancer, you know, mainly in, you know, lyrical was a thing, but there wasn't really contemporary the ab more abstract movement yet. So we were, you know, training those styles. Um, and so I went to the feedback audition and just loved the choreography. Was Tony Tesa, ed Moore, Gil Old Delau
In the state. Ed's freaking more, I need more Ed, more. I also, you know, I love some Tony Tesa we're, you know, practically family, but Ed Moore, I need more. That was the groove. That was the funk man. Ooh. So nice
Hit off. You feel it still in your body, don't you? I can see it, yes.
I was just like, snap, I need to stand up and learn this real quick. And I just felt really good that day too. I had, um, really fallen in love with yoga and was just like in a good flow and a good groove in, in my life at that point. So I felt just really my skin and, and knew that I already also had this like, potential solo spot. So going into feedback audition, I, I, I felt really good about it. And, and so I ended up booking the music video to be one of the dancers in the music video. And then that turned into the Rock With You video and some promo tours. And then I got to be in the 25 pieces on Janet's tour, like with the nation if all that. And like, it was just crazy. I remember seeing like Tony and, you know, all these Blake and all these amazing Jillian on Good Morning America and all these performances. I'm still here, um, like 16, 17 years old. And I was like, that'd be cool. But that just seems so far fetched, like, so far out. I don't know if it's actually like possible. So it really wasn't fully in my radar to be honest. And I think getting back to your point, I think a lot of, especially my early years was, was less goal-oriented and more like, Ooh, I really am enjoying this and really craving this. Let me sink my teeth into that and then, you know, see where this could potentially evolve. But building genuine friendships and connections was, was key.
Okay. Okay. I'm coming for your Achilles heel now cuz it sounds like humans light you up, uh, research and development of yourself, of your body, of your craft that lights you up. Um, momentum kind like saying yes and going with the flow lights you up. And again, like I I I I swear if you could sell Teddy Florence energy in a bottle, you would be a rich man. So I'm curious now if, if those are the things that charge you up, if that's what fuels you, what sucks you dry, man, is there anything that you're like, oh, hate that, that, is there anything that like, um, Dementor sucks the life out of you <laugh>? Or is it all truly
Juice? No, no. There, there's um, I would say my taxes <laugh>
<laugh>. Yeah. My taxes used to like carve out pieces of me. I felt like, I was like, oh my God, I didn't plan well. And I had friends who were really good at it and, and I was not one of them. So, uh, over the last like three to four years I've had help from Christine, you know, Christine on the c i team. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, she's like, really helped me with that. And it's just given me such like a more confidence of a balance in my life where I'm not like curious like, how much money am I gonna owe at the end of the year? Like, do I actually have this or, you know, that. So that honestly was one of the biggest shifts for me over the last few years is like feeling financially like really stable, comfortable. I know where my money's at, I know how to prepare and communicate with Christine on what I need to do and, and you know, not overexerting myself being like mm-hmm <affirmative>, well I'll probably owe X amount why she just, you know, worked 12 hours, not spend any money and, and, and work my ass off.
Yeah. Yes. That honestly had been my model, that was my money model for like, probably up until I was 30. Work really hard, pretend like I'm broke, do everything that anyone ever tells me to do in terms of money advice. People are like, get a separate card for your bus, credit card for your business. Okay. Did it buy a house as soon as you can? Like, okay, did it, um, the work hard save thing was passed down from my family. That's just how we've always kind of operated. But it wasn't until like my early thirties and still I cannot pretend to be good at this, but the thought of my money, making money while I sleep, the thought of being invested and, you know, having a really diverse sort of portfolio versus, you know, just focusing on the billable hours of the day is, that was a huge shift for me as well as finding a money team. My c p A is a badass. I have a bookkeeper who is tight. I've really, I, yeah, I have way more confidence in my money team than I have in my money self, but I am becoming a money savvy person for sure.
It's, it's, it's so, it's so important cuz it gives you freedom, you know, it gives you freedom to, in the sense of like not having to worry about it. And that's just balance my mindset, my creativity, um, my family just like really knowing where that's at so then I can focus a hundred percent on what I really want to do and, and aligning those things. And yeah. So that, I think that's one of the main things. Um, you know, uh, I don't know if there's, there's many other things I I feel like <laugh>
That's fascinating. Astonished by how the evolution of dance just keeps getting better in my mind. Yes. And I know there's, you know, a lot of conversation about that, but I'm just fascinated at the growth. Um, obviously social media to me has helped me a lot in the sense of like mm-hmm. <affirmative> researching other dancers around the world or even people that I know well and like seeing them consistently. I love when people like, you know, following the right people that inspire me and mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I'm just like, how is this possible? Like if there's how they find a new pathway, a new thread, a new this, a new that, and
How are we still seeing new po possibilities in combinations of movement. I, same, I just took Marty's class. Marty taught with Tobias Elham, I think is how you last say his last name. And Misha and I was in the room there wa had to have been 80 to a hundred, whatever maximum capacity is in there. It was fully sold out. Uh, and not only was the material that they were teaching, still new and exciting and really hard, we'll come back around that later. Um, I was so maxed out, I was very stretched. Uh, but I looked around at this room, there were 11 year olds in there, there were adults in there, there were like people who don't speak English in there. There was a such a full spectrum. And I was seeing dance choices, improvisation, performance, quality, and like effort unlike I had ever seen before. There is still newness out there and that blows my mind because like the, the human body hasn't evolved that much, but it seems like this craft of ours really, really has. And it is a thrilling thing to be a part of, isn't it?
It's so thrilling. And I feel like, you know, even seeing my mom's studio and their growth in, in the efficiency, the knowledge, you know, a lot of studio owners better understand how to properly warm up, how to really prepare their Dancers, cross train, Cross training. Like there's just so other ways and tools to, to train, you know, the highest level athletes and dancers now. And, and we're seeing that and I, you know, shout out to all those studio owners who are really putting in that, that quality training and work of the studios. Cuz you can tell <laugh> like there's brilliant talent growing up.
Well that's a practical segue then also super shout out to c l I for being on the very, very front end of virtual learning platforms that helped people, not just dancers, but studio owners create curriculums that help their students be growing, even if they may have skill gaps in certain areas. Because yeah, it is in one lifetime it's impossible for all of us to be the specialist on all of the things. So outsourcing your specialists makes so much sense. And c l I made that possible. Um, I guess, yeah, I'm fascinated in business always. Can you maybe talk me through the evolution of c l i? What was the objective when you started and how has that changed to now?
So the, the key goal of ours is to make, simply to make the world a more creative place. That's like our, our high level goal is, is to make this mm-hmm. <affirmative> mm-hmm <affirmative> everyone around us more creative. Um, and, and the main goal, um, has always been to provide, you know, great knowledge, great resources, great tools for studio owners, teachers and dancers, um mm-hmm. <affirmative> and around the world. Cause I knew like growing up for myself too, like having so much information here, I was gifted with a lot and we live close here, go to BDC in steps and, you know, had the money to go to conventions and competitions and travel, you know, all over, even the world that my family brought me in, not everyone has that opportunity. Um, so we wanted to, you know, give also to, for an affordable price to dancers from all around the world. And that's just been so cool to see, you know, someone from Tokyo or Africa or India, like all over the world actually learning and actually gaining from this and, and letting us know. So a lot of that fed us to, you know, inspired us to continue to, to grow and to, to build more classes, more opportunities in that sense. Um, and then we got into Zoom. We got into online Zoom classes mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I dunno the exact date, you'll have to email John about that. Uh, ok. But we started that when Zoom wasn't, um, you know, a big thing yet. And it was like,
Like beta beta zoom days.
Beta zoom days. And I'll never forget the moment that we had our first, um, interactive, we called them interactive, uh, classes with one studio at a time where they had a projector or a TV screen and they could see us, we could see them and you know, just being able to say like, Hey, what's your name in the front with, you know, the, the pink uh, pants? You know, what's your name? Hi, I'm Dana. Uh, and, and giving them real-time correction feedback, even though it was a little bit of, you know, latency and delay a little bit. We could still get our point across as such a class. And I think I might have done like four to 500, um, early on before we had like, fully had other choreographers starting to come in to just really test it and really understand the product and, and know what it was and what what we needed to work on, uh, before it grew exponentially. So I just like, love that. We had a, we had a studio about the size of my, my, uh, office here, uh, probably like a eight by 10 foot studio space in NoHo. It was in an apartment, like in an arts.
I remember this place.
Oh yeah. It was tiny. But we were so excited, like John and Justin, uh, co-founders of the company they lived in, they moved into the, uh, the room next to us lived in bunk beds. The office was in there and the studio was in the other room. You know, it was like a kitchen and everything in the studio. So I'd be cooking between classes and it
Was nuts. Full startup life,
Full startup life. And it just, we were never not fueled by the vision and never not engaged in like, the little steps. And we knew that like all those little baby steps and, and big dreams and big conversations like would come. And it's, it's really cool to now be like living out and building out those big dreams after, you know, like seven, eight years worth, worth of, you know, really hard work on some of the things that a lot of people wouldn't want to do. Um, like I used to clean the floors and, you know, get all the stuff for, you know, the facility and stuff for us too. So I think it was that grit and that like just passion to create something new and special and knowing the community, knowing what dance studio owners and teachers needed and wanted as well as dancers that fueled us. Cuz we just like every day would wake up just so amped to, to really build this.
Whoa. And at what part did the conservatory become a, a dream, like having a, a rooted brick and mortar place for training? Like this? Kind of the way I see it is this non-college non-straight to the workforce option for young dancers who have interest, but maybe not a decision yet. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> in, in where they wanna go and what they wanna be doing. Um, so yeah. What brought you from the online Be in many places at once, mindset to the Let's root, let's have a place where people come to us.
I've always envisioned something like this. Like you've been, of course you've been in generation four, some are intensive and just like that hybrid, that energy, um, combined with CS connections and just like the, the overall team that we have. I was like, I feel like there's some kind of combination, but I've always wanted a space where artists and dancers who come and, and really build a community. Um, so Gen four was like the ignition of like, that feeling of like, ooh, it's like a week's worth of really intensive training classes, all day performances. You know, there's like video content involved. Um, just all these different that, that feeling, that source of energy from Gen four. And then everything that we were doing at c l I, it was kind of bursting, um, for many years, like over 10 years I feel like, uh, inside of me. And then during the pandemic, I just had this intuition one day. I was like, you know, I feel like we need to start something like this. Especially at, you know, how hard the pandemic was for, for so many people and so many young dancers trying to figure out what their next steps was gonna be. Um, I started, you know, brainstorming, talking with John, talking with the team about it. Um, and then, you know, also calling close studio owner friends, teachers and just asking their opinions, is this a good timing? You know, when, when you think I should do this? And, and they all said like, now is the time pull, pull the trigger. Like now, like in the next month. Wow. So, um, also, you know, during the pandemic personally, uh, my wife and I, Victoria, we were realizing like, you know, maybe LA isn't the place where we want to raise our kids right now. Um, maybe we want a shift and, and find a, a new place. And so when we decided on, uh, being back here in Southampton Mass, we said, well, you know, my mom has the studio and no dancers are there from eight in the morning till 3:00 PM at night. And then we have another studio from four to 7:00 PM This could be a really resourceful way to do it. Um, and also make it affordable for a tuition and housing and all that for the dancers instead of starting in la Yeah. You know, and I think that sense of like being willing to take a risk and try something new, exploring something while doing it in a place where I can have the resources, the tools, the family, the village, and also a place for my personal family to, to live, you know, a good, healthy, balanced lifestyle.
So, um, it ignited, um, and I, I essentially posted an Instagram video after I had done a lot of, you know, pre-work to the curriculum and talking with the team about it. And I essentially made an Instagram video saying, you know, this is my idea. This is what I'm doing. If you're a dancer 17 plus and wanna become a professional dancer, teacher, a choreographer, this might be the place for you. Send me an email with videos and we'll set up interviews and stuff. And it was astonishing how many people auditioned like off the bat. And you know, the team saw the talent and realized it. And my brother Johnny called me after he looked at all the Dropbox links. He was like, oh my God, this is real and this is gonna be really special really fast. I need to be there to film this process and create some type of documentary or like, something like this is gonna be incredible. Yes. Almost like a gen four vibe. Yes, yes. So, uh, we called Devin Jameson, who, uh, is a big part of CLI Studios. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> been a big part of my journey, um, as a creator as well. He's on the this, uh, heading up the CLI content team. And we called Devin. We said, Devin, um, you know, what do you think about this idea of moving the team to East Hampton? And he was like, whoa. Um, I love this. Oh my god, area. That was
A good Deb, I love this idea. That was a really good whoa <laugh>.
Whoa. And then, and then he was like, you know what? Yeah, I'm in if this can work out. So we called John, it was like midnight and I was, you know, me, like, once I have an idea, I'm like, I need to talk about it now. Like, it needs to happen now. Yeah. I'm not waiting. Yeah. Uh, so we called John, he was like, hello. And I'm like, Hey, you got, uh, Johnny and, and Devin and I on the line, you know, we've got this, this big dream, this big idea. Um, just listened for the next few hours and then we'll give you time to, to answer. Uh, and Johnny, Johnny was like, Teddy, like, we could have used an extra few days to, to call John about this. This is a really big idea. I should have gone through more of the numbers. I was like,
No, we could have like fleshed this out, like put a meeting, like actually scheduled a meeting, like checked his avail. But like, no, you said right now, this moment.
That's how a lot of the things honestly in my life, um, have come to fruition is like I just pressed dial and like start the conversation and see where it goes from there. Some of the ideas don't work, some have, but I'm not a perfectionist and willing to put in the work to, to create a great experience for people. Um, so John is like, after like two hours, at first he was like silent and just like, I don't know, this sounds kind of wild. And then by the end he was like, wow, this actually makes sense. This is a good next step for the company. Let's figure out the details and logistics and you know, let, let's go for it. So it was pretty quick after that that, you know, we talked to the entire team and we, we essentially moved six people from Los Angeles to Massachusetts and Wow. It's been, it's been two years now.
Wow. Wow, wow. Um, okay. So I want to talk about two different areas of balance, because balancing having a team that is balanced is really important. You mentioned you've got John, you've got Johnny, you've got Dev, you've got a, a full support system, some fantastic women out there in like actually on the ground. Um, and I'm, I, I know because I always look for teammates that make up for in the areas that I lack. Um, if I am the nice guy, the human interface that gets to be smiley, I need to have a bulldog somewhere. I need to have the contract person, the let's talk facts person, the money person. I need to have somebody that is a little bit more rigid in terms of boundaries. Cuz I like to snoopy sloop, um mm-hmm <affirmative> that <laugh>, I don't think I can say that better.
Um, not in terms of like safety boundaries, but like schedule boundaries and things like that. Um, I really love to schedule myself out, like to the, to the minute I have my calendar packed. So it's helpful for me to have somebody that's like, Hey, when's the last time you took a vacation? Or like, do you think maybe you just want like the afternoon off to like recover from your two red eye flights and six convention classes and music, video rehearsal and shoe and you know, dealing with all the other human life stuff that I have as a human. Um, so do you, do you think you've accomplished that with your team? How do you protect balance on your team and is that any different than how you do it for yourself? The individual? Like, I think I, it's cuz you can't control other people and you can't think for other people and you can't make other people care. Um, so yeah. How does balance work for you in the sense of a team and in the sense of you as an individual?
Yeah, I think those are great points. Um, John Aino, the c e o of c l i, he's incredible at that. He's worked with, you know, other law firms and different companies, um, completely different than dance and has built a great setup and culture with the team to, you know, he has a lot of one-on-one meetings with all of all of the team members. So a lot of conversation, a lot of feedback. Um, we're very open-minded to, to every person on the team and, and really hold value in space for their ideas and their concepts and things that make sense for their lifestyles. Um, so it's, it's very open and I, I love that about the way John leads the team in that sense. Um, and I'm a part of, you know, a lot of the decision making and John and I have a lot of conversations, um, as well about the big high level stuff.
But on the day-to-day operations of, of running the team, John and Justin do a lot of that work, um mm-hmm. <affirmative> and people on the ground like Krisha and Claire and Geo, um, you know, everyone has a lot of also ownership of the things that, that they're doing, making decisions inside of their realms, um, as well. But there's just so much communication that goes on. There's so many meetings that we have on a weekly basis, um, building the curriculums together, building the concepts together. We, we've gotten better over time with that too. Um, I would say I've learned to balance more and I think my wife has helped me with that. Victoria's like, you know, will remind me like, Hey, you should take a day off or Uhhuh <affirmative> let's, you know, go and do a trip to Mexico or let's, you know, go do these things. Cuz I'm, you know, slightly on the side of obsessed with, um, the big, big visions and the big goals and the day-to-day just dance stuff. I just like, have just been obsessed with it for a very long time and it doesn't feel unbalanced to me because I love it so much. So people will be like,
And I'm like, I don't feel, honestly, this sounds cliche, but I don't feel like I'm working a lot of the time cause I'm just so happy doing it. I really, really love to do it. Yeah. Yeah. For instance, like today I took a walk and enjoyed the sun that's out right now after the snow and sat down and meditated for a moment. So I feel like I'm getting better at delegating as well and really trusting team members to do some of the things that I used to do. And then opening up a little more space for me to, to to dream and to, you know, be home, um, a little bit more with, with the kids too.
Cool. Uh, I like the sound of that and I'm similar I think in the sense at least that I love the many hats that I wear. I love the many jobs that I have. It's very unusual that I be off from all of my jobs. Yeah. Like, you know, cor choreographing this film that I'm working on. Yes. Right now, I'm not working this week, but instead I'm frontloading podcasts like crazy. I'm preparing content for the words that move me. Community. I'm training, I'm, uh, oh my god, Teddy, I'm going back to acting class. I am so excited. <laugh>, uh, we'll talk more about that, uh, later offline. But I, there is work that I love filling my plate with that doesn't feel, you know, the question I asked you earlier, like, what sucks you dry? Those things don't suck me dry. They fill my cup, so mm-hmm.
<affirmative> it does, it, it allows me to take I think, smaller breaks. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> like you said, like the morning or a 10 minute meditation. Teddy, I've been listening to poetry, uh, not reading it because turns out I, I, I don't know what it is, but my eyes get really uncomfortable when I read for periods of time. It puts me to sleep. Yes. <laugh>. Yeah. So listening to poetry has become this incredible vacation where I for five minutes go to a place and it's like a micro journey, um mm-hmm. <affirmative> or like microdosing vacation time. And I do, I don't think I need a ton of it and I could be wrong, look out for my, my midlife minty b, which is code for mental breakdown. I saw that in a meme and I was like, Ooh, can't wait to use that in person. Yeah. Um, yeah, I don't, I, I, I feel a sense of balance because I think I am always correcting and I think there will always be adjustments to be made. I actually, my, my last week's podcast episode is about balance and my belief that dancers are perfectly predispositioned to be masters of finding balance in life. Because the way you find it in life is the same way you find it in a studio, which is assessing yourself in space, assessing the task, trying not just with the thought of doing it once, but with the thought of embodying it. Mm-hmm. So you have like, that kind of trying is different because then when you lose it, it's not lost forever. It's like a step in finding it or keeping it and embodying it. So I think we've got a unique relationship with trying and then so critical in our assessment of what went well and what didn't go well, we can keep the pieces that go well mm-hmm. <affirmative> like a morning meditation or you know, like my hips slightly to the right. If that worked for me, then I'll keep that part, but I'll shift this other part. So that kind of ability to isolate the things that work and don't work and make these micro adjustments until you have found the balance. I really do think that that happens in life and that happens in dance. So I think you're probably good at it and you're good at going also in life because you're good at going and dance. It's like, it's quick transitions. It's like you said, pick up the phone. Wait, what did you say? I wrote it down cause it was so great. Press dial, not write it in the to-do list. Not draft a note to self, but like pick up the phone and go. I see that in your movement. I see it in your leadership and business sensibilities and I think in your life that has served you really well. Um, and it probably will continue to until there's a moment maybe, maybe 70 year old Teddy is like, you know, I'm going to take a sabbatical <laugh> where I do nothing and talk to no one silent retreat for a year. I don't know what it is, but Yeah. Um, yeah, balance is an interesting thing that will always be refining. And then as soon as we have it, of course you up and move, you change locations, you, uh, have a child. You, you know, all, as soon as we find that balance, whatever it, whatever it means something changes and that's Yeah. Such a gift.
And a frustration at times. <laugh>.
Yeah. You know, it's, I feel like now overall though, because of, um, and one of our mottos at cli, especially John's, uh, you know, motto and, and way of, of running the company is there's no problems. There's only solutions. And I used to get like freaked out, like, this teacher just canceled last minute, what are we gonna do? Oh my God, there's
A problem. We have a problem.
And he'd be like, let's take a breath and let's, let's just figure out the solution. And he was just always so calm and at first he should like get me like sometimes like more ants just like, no, like this is a really big deal. Uh, and he's like, no, I know it is. Let's just, let's figure it out. Let's spend the energy and time on figuring it out. So now just leading with that mindset over the last like 10 years of like, there is a solution, there will be. And whether it's not the exact solution we wanted, there's another route and there's another way. And that's like really cooled my temperature overall. Um, and just really balanced my mind of like, whatever arises, we will figure it out. And it's very possible, even if it's a very big, big goal, big dream, big thing, you know, um, big problem that might, you might think in your head it's like there's also could be a big solution and a really good other way to go and maybe a better solution. Um mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So that really helps balance my mind. And, um, I think, you know, as, as I get older too, it's like we've all been through so many different things in our lives, whether it be personally mm-hmm. <affirmative> or in the business that, um, I found a way to yeah, just cool my nervous system when those, you know, crashing waves come and it's like, okay, like everything will be okay and we're gonna be good. And, and that balance like has really just like comforted me over the years.
Do you have any other mantras or guiding principles that cool the jets a little bit? There are only solutions. I love that one.
Yes. Um, you know, one of the things that, you know, I always think about is I really believe that we're all filled with like, infinite possibilities and potentials and it's like leading every day with curiosity because, you know, you could discover something really special and that to me is just like, ooh. Like when we really look into other people and know that they, like we could help them uncover something or I could uncover something in myself through them, then it's just like everyone is limitless. Like you can really learn from everyone. Um, even like the people doing construction, um, on C lab right now, like, I'm just fascinated by the way their brain works of like, you know, we've got this portable wall going up and then this is gonna happen here and we'll soundproof this and, and just like the way that their minds work, I'm just fascinated by it and the plans and the build out and it's just, um, I think, you know, not only dancers and choreographers, but we can literally be inspired by everyone. Um, so that really,
And, and things Teddy open the jar, like what things, objects, places, elements Yes. So much to like unlock. There's hidden, you know, dormant inspiration everywhere. Uh, I love this actually it came up in a coaching at c l A, uh, I was asking somebody how they thought they needed to feel in order to A, B, C, D, F, G, you know, they had a, a specific actions list that they were trying to work themselves towards and through. And I said, how do you think you need to, uh, feel? And they said, inspired. And I asked if they knew the root word of inspired. Do you know it? It's Latin. You just did it
In Speeda? No. Um, I don't know. It's,
No, I don't. It's that it was close. It's spire, which means breathe.
And to inspire means to give breath to expire obviously is out of breath. You are expired. Um, perspire is your way, your body's way of breathing right through, you know, sweat and saliva and you know, all the things. And, um, it's, it's, it, I love personifying things and giving breath to spaces. It's part of the way that I perform in my head is a, it's a very living place, a very animated process for me. Mm-hmm. And, um, I think when you approach life about thinking, what could I uncover? What could I give life to? What is this curiosity thing? It's such a cash cow. What is out there living right now that I could find uncover, uh, be gifted, um, you know, telegraph broadly, show share. Like, it makes so much sense when you say that, that your, your kind of, the reason your energy is limitless is because you are thinking without boundaries. You are thinking very big my friend. And that is such an inspiration to hear out loud and, and it makes so much sense. It makes so much sense.
Yeah. Sometimes, uh, Victoria, my wife will ask me like, do you have limits? Like in the sense of like those big ideas because she's always the first portion and I'll, you know, come home to be like, I got this idea. Um, and she's like, wow, that's, you know, that's, that's really far out, but like, you know, I want to hear more about it <laugh>. Um, and sometimes it's like, yeah, I can reel it in a little bit. Um mm-hmm. <affirmative> and it's just always Yeah, nice to, yeah, just have a lot of conversations with also a lot of different people too. Um mm-hmm. <affirmative> about the ideas. And I've always been someone to like try to verbalize and like put it out there and see uni universe and mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, and I think that really has, has helped to have, uh, uh, friendships with a lot of different people that inspire me and give me breath and, and give me that, that encouragement. Like this could happen. Like if you put in the work and keep discovering what you know, in and unfolding these different layers of what could be. Um, yeah, it's, I I always love talking about it and getting, getting it out there into the universe.
Yeah. Yeah. You and I, and, and people like us certainly who've been surrounded, uh, by nurturing relationships and a world that definitely wants us to win. Like we are, you and I both privileged in so many ways, it's natural to us to think, um, big and to, you know, we have evidence of our big thing, our big goals coming true. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And what I'm noticing and applaud you so much for, especially with c l i, is that your big, you know, I call it open jar thinking. Um, I'll quick background on that. If you're not familiar. There's been a lot of studies around, uh, fleas and <laugh>. Here we go. So there are fleas. You put 'em in a jar, they'll, they'll jump jump right out of the jar if there's no lid on it. Cuz fleas can jump. They're like, Teddy, they're like you, they're like truly, I can't remember the exact, um, like the physics of it or the, the proportion, like to their height, they can jump like 6,000 times their height. It would be like you or I being able to jump onto the top of a skyscraper that that's how they, they are able, it's so crazy. Anyways, uh, once you put a lid on that jar, all that pow, they keep jumping and they hit their little flea heads on the jar and it hurts because they've got so much power in this jump. So watch, somebody's gonna like, comment on this podcast. They're like, actually fleas don't have a central nervous system. It doesn't hurt them. They're fine, whatever. In my mind they, whatever, whatever the reason why they stopped jumping, ultimately they stopped jumping that high. And more importantly, even their offspring who never experienced the open jar will only jump as high as their parents. So they'll never jump out of the jar. Even when you remove the lid, the fleas will not jump out cuz they've, you know, adjusted.
And when you think about the cultural implications of that, um, I think it's, it's really awesome that you, that John, that the c l I team and people like me who have had the privilege of open jar thinking our whole life have given ourselves a bone to chew on this goal, this thing that put us into motion that is now, it, it's not a personal thing, it's a community thing. Your open jar thinking is showing other people how and that they can. And um, you, you know, your chew toy, this thing that is c l i has been So it's, it was momentous for you, right? It increased your quality of life. It gave you a focus, it gave you purpose, it gave you exercise and self-development and a network and all the good things. But it's also multiplying cuz it's that for other people involved mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so I just can't applaud you enough for doing that, for scholarshipping so many people into the program who otherwise would not have access. Um, I don't know if you are currently accepting applications for next season, but, um, maybe just take the floor and and and put the, put the call out to, to some future talent. Anybody that might be listening. What do you, what are you guys looking for?
Yeah, so you know, a lot of what we talked about too is, you know, o open minds, um, young artists that are really willing to commit, um, to the program and to the community and to the energy of it. Um, you know, we're looking for talented individuals who yeah. Want to become a special dancer, teacher or choreographer. Um, we're accepting, yeah, we're still accepting students for our c y three class. Um, the program goes from next year, it's 10 months, so it starts in September, goes all the way through June. Of course we got our breaks, uh, for winter break and stuff. Um, but yeah, we will, we'll be accepting students for, um, a little bit longer here now. So you can just go to our c l i conservatory Instagram, click on the link in our bio. And, um, there's multiple ways to audition either in person, uh, here the conservatory or, uh, through online submissions and interviews.
Fan freaking fantastic. Teddy, thank you for sharing. Thank you for doing all that you do, for giving us a peek into your boundless mind. That is so freaking cool. I love it. I love you.
I love you so much. I've always, yeah, just been a big fan friends. Um, thank you for inspiring me for so many years and for yeah, being a big part of c Alive as well.
I just remembered something. Didn't you do the Florence and the machine performance of the VMAs where we were blue,
That together. I <laugh> we did that together. My call time was six 30 in the morning and I had to be on the rooftop of the parking structure at LA Live or whatever they call it now in a toe touch. Like literally fingertips to toes, cheeks to the sky as they spray painted all of my crevices blue. Like I was blue head to toe. Cause there was that
You were just like, you looked at me and you were like, oh my God, I'm a cold. Uh, b just like
A freezing cold.
I think I
My so exposed. You think you have what?
Lemme see. It's like oh,
Your, your credential. Oh my God. Please find it. I bet I have mine too.
Wait, where is it? Do I have it? It was, um, it was a Janet one, you know, I got, I got
Was it like, what year was that? TW 12?
It was like 20 10, 20 12.
This one. I think it's this, yeah. Um, 2010. It's this one right here.
Yep. There it is. That was like one of my favorite performance of all time. Of course. Florance and the machine and just all of us on that project. Do you remember they put a, a white carpet down like right before we went on. So we hadn't like practiced on that white carpet. So we're like, oh God, like let's get comfortable carpet. Uh,
And all our blue body paint is scrubbing off on the white carpet. Genius. Genius plan. Oh my God. Um, yeah. Choreographed by Travis and I remember Florence just being such a treasure to work with. Um, <laugh> Channing and I, Channing Cook and I, after the show were recruited to accompany Florence to an after party as the blue girls. So I think I spent no, no more. Yeah. More than 24 hours painted blue. Cuz we, we went into makeup that morning at six 30 and I think I got home at six 30 the next morning. Like, oh my goodness. That it was that level of,
And took another four hours to wash it all off. Probably
100%. My bathtub had a blue ring around it for weeks. <laugh> fortunately though, because of um, because of that, like Channing and I went out afterwards in, in costume. I had still have that wig and all that jewelry and all that stuff that we wore. Yeah. So if ever I am in need of a good Halloween costume, I could be the blue lady, the VMAs
<laugh> just show up at cli full blue. You're gonna teach my class.
There you go. I mean it's very on brand in terms of seaweed, um, really is, I have no, I have no idea what they sprayed us with, but it, other than the carpet, it seemed to upand just about anything. I had to scrub that stuff off. <laugh>. Um, okay. Teddy, you, I, I thank you again for being here. Thank you for the memory lane. Thank you for your forward focus and for being such a great example of having multiple interests and that becoming multiple interesting and, and successful, you know, fulfilling on many different verticals. You're, you're so great. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Love you Dana. See you soon
Love you back. Bye.
All right, my friend. I hope you dug that conversation as much as I did. I will 100% be linking to some of, uh, Teddy's performances with Janet. 100% will link to our Florence and the machine performance. And, um, I hope if nothing else that you take away from this episode, the idea of curiosity and there being infinite possibilities always. Um, it's our, our duty and our privilege to get to find out what they are and to uncover them, to share them, to, uh, unearth them, to plant them, to grow them, all of it. Um, I really also loved Teddy's press dial philosophy. I think myself and a lot of my peers do a whole lot of thinking about the thing, writing the thing, developing the thing, putting the thing into Canva, turning the thing into a PowerPoint presentation, emailing somebody to see if they wanna look at the PowerPoint.
Just pick up the damn phone already. Uh, especially if you are someone like Teddy who has such incredible resources. Um, and I think, uh, Teddy is very selfless in, in sharing his resources. C l i is such a great example of that. Get into it if you aren't already. Um, I, I, I, I think that is it for me. Um, I might just go back and listen to this one again right away. I hope you do too, and I hope you get out into the world and keep it exceptionally funky. I will talk to you soon.
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