Words That Move Me with Dana Wilson
Ep. #56 Climbing Ladders and (literally) Jumping Through Hoops with Matty Peacock
My guest in this episode, Matty Peacock, works closely with more than “some” of today’s most influential pop sensations. The most influential thing about him, however, is not his resume... It is his respect for the work, the mystery, and the collaboration within the process. From performing to choreographing and directing Matty shares *almost* all of his secrets and stories that land him where he stands (and moves) today. ENJOY!
Leon Else’s Dance Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbKcv4LyZD4
Fatboy Slim Weapon Of Choice Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbKcv4LyZD4
(Choreographed by Michael Rooney)
Hoizer Work Song Music Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nH7bjV0Q_44&list=PL_syrWcl4u8mYiBDsosGxqs6fKmyrH1qp&index=15
Anthony Ramos Mind over Matter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYRXCaazHSw
Nothing sticks promo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJgtSreFD1s
Crystal Pite and Kidd Pivot: https://kiddpivot.org/crystal-pite/
Shawn Mendes Wonder: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHeQemJJQII
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 dance. I choreograph I coach. And the only thing that I love more than moving is sharing. So if you are someone who loves to work and laugh and you're looking to rewrite the starving artists story, then you’re in the right place.
Dana: Hello, Hello. How are you? My friend. Well, I hope good. Good would be good. Great is great. Um, and okay. Is also totally okay if you're just doing okay today, man. Crappy is actually okay too. I will accept that there is a lot going on out there in the world, and I hope that this episode finds you at very, very least being kind to yourself and hopefully kind to others as well. Okay. Wow. My friend, I have a treat for you today. My guest on the show, a show, do I usually call it a show? My guest on the podcast is Matty Peacock, director, choreographer, movement, director movement, coach performer, and many, many things he's about to tell you. And he is also a dear friend, um, and much to his own surprise. I think he is also an excellent talker. I learned so much about my friend, Matty P. I learned so much about myself in this conversation and, um, I hope that you do too. So, uh, we're going to jump right into it. Enjoy this conversation with the wonderful. See what I did there. Matty Peacock,
Dana: Matthew Peacock. Holy smokes. Welcome to the podcast.
Matty: Thank you, Dana. Thanks for having me.
Dana: I’m so glad you're here. This is exciting. Um, by the way, I suppose I call you Matty P is that, is that what you like? Like what do you, how do you prefer to be?
Matty: I think I've, I'm kind of indifferent about my name, which probably is kind of a problem. I think when I was like, I, you seem to do some myself as peacock and actually stuck for a long time. And then I think through climbing ranks of different things, I think Matty Peacock ended up sticking more and felt more official, I guess. I dunno,
But peacock is your real true last name,
That is correct.
That's sick. I love it. Okay. This is how it works on a podcast. All of my guests introduce themselves. So take it away. What do you want us to know about you?
Um, well, first and foremost, I am terrible at talking about myself, but I'm going to give it a shot.
Oh, you're going to be great. I can tell already, plus I edit heavily. So if something goes terribly wrong, you're fine.
Great. Um, well, my name is Matty Peacock. Um, I am from Long Island, New York. I was born in Korea, um, and I am a man of many talents and a master of none of them. Um, I would say currently I'm mostly focused on, um, being a director and a choreographer, um, and leading up into present day I've, um, danced and still dance as a professional dancer. Um, I'm a writer, artist, uh, creator, movement coach, movement director. Um, friend's son, uncle, um, lover of good food and good movies and, um, a human being. How about that?
Yo for somebody who doesn't not much like to talk about themselves. That was really good.
Yeah. Are we done with this?
Yes, well thank you so much for coming. Bye. Um, all right. So very broadly, this podcast is about navigating creative careers, but what it actually is about, I think is learning period point blank. The end. Its what I always find myself talking about is what excites me the most. I love to learn. So, um, I thought we might start by you talking a little bit about your training. Like how did you learn and what did you learn about on the come up?
Alright. Um, I would say I fell into dance, like kind of late. Um, I started dancing at the age of 16. Uh, I grew up again, uh, in a small area, a little small town, a long Island in a middle-class family, quite sports. Um, I actually lived near a ranch, so I would spend a lot of time on the ranch. Uh, it was like one of my first jobs. It was like working at the stables and I fell into horseback riding. Uh, and that was kind of the bulk of my childhood into my pre-teens. Uh, but there was a close friend of mine whose I'm still very close with to this day. He kind of introduced me, uh, it's a dancer and he went to a dance, a local dance studio, and he would always like, he was like the cool kid in school. He like would like dance at the school dances and all the girls that are like into his moves and like, um, we played sports and he was like, you know, do back flips on the football field. And I was like, Oh man, this kid is so cool. Like I want to learn how to do that. And I, one day I just kind of asked him, I was like, can you teach me how to dance? You know? And then also growing up, like being influenced by likes TV and seeing, you know, Michael Jackson and just great music videos, you know? Um, and so he was like, come, come to my dance studio, you know, kind of take a class. Um, and so, yeah, I, I asked my, my parents who have always been super supportive of everything I've done and they're like, sure, I will sign you up. So I took a hip, uh, recreational hip hop class and I was terrible
Where it all begins.
It starts there. Right. So bad. I couldn't like the thing I couldn't get over was like having to like learn the choreography and like, and memorize it. So like, I would like try to freestyle like, and like learn how to, you know, I, I would research and watch videos of people break dancing. So I would try to learn in my living room, like how to break dance. And I was obviously like, terrible, like trying to do windmills, like on carpet.
Can you do them now? I bet you could
Not anymore. I am learning how too. Um, but yeah, I just started at my local dance studio and I think, um, the director of the studio, I think after a summer of like, you know, you go once a week, that was like the thing I look forward to every week, one hour, every Wednesday I would go and you'd learn, you know, a combo that I would always forget or never remember. Uh, and then at the end of the four weeks, you like basically do the whole routine, but I never, I couldn't remember it. So I just would, um, freestyle.
I love this imagery that I'm seeing in my head. Do you remember I'm so I'm just, I want to fill out the imaginary scenario that I'm creating. Do you remember any of the music that you were doing?
Uh, rhythm nation was the first song that I danced too, but specifically the instrumental part then. And it was just like, and I was the only guy in my class. It was maybe it was all girls and they probably had been doing it going
Since they were three.
Yeah. Since there were three and like, they were, they were so much better than I was, but I first, I just loved being in the studio. And just like, even though I never did the choreography, I would just dance myself the mirror. And I was like, Oh, wow, this is so like fun. And it was just fun. So I taught like after that summer was over, I was like, mom, I want to do it again next summer. You know? And then I guess my, the director of my studio, Michelle Ferraro, she approached, my mom was like, Hey, like, you know, your son, like, he's really good at this thing. I would have loved to have him take more classes to get better at learning how to dance. And my mom was kind of hesitant and she, you know, it's expensive. And again, we came from a lower middle class, uh, and she kindly agreed to like, you know, have a lower tuition or, and things like that. And kind of take me under her wing. And she would give me privates on just the basics of dance. I wouldn't even say it was ballet. Like I specifically remember like, you know, first learning the positions, but like having to like, learn how to do a leap was like, she would set like hula hoops on the floor and he would have to like jump into a hula hoop and I’m 16 years old. And there's like three year olds, like also doing
Incredible. Um, Aw, what are unique start to the journey. I love this also super shout out to parents who put their kids through dance and to teachers who scholarship and put special care into students that they see potential. And that's so special.
Yeah. I am forever in debt to, you know, my parents and also my director who I think like, I'm like, what would I have done? Like as a teen, I would probably been in so much trouble. I was already getting into trouble before I started dancing. So I think bands like kept me out of trouble. And, you know, you go to a group of friends and, you know, after I started dancing a little bit more, you start to, you know, I, I ended up doing like competition. Um, but yeah, I mean, I, I started probably similar to you doing dance competition, but, and I was, I was never, I was years behind all the kids in my, at my age level and my studio was pretty decent for the area and like the regional competition. So
Michelle Ferraro, that's a name that I know like, absolutely. Yeah. She's great.
And I think also what helped is that I grew up, like there were three other males, like at my studio that were around the same age as me that were incredible. Some that you probably know, but again, I was like, I was like an infant compared to them. So it was always great to have somebody to look up and just watch and learn because I am such a visual person of like how to learn. Um, but yeah, I mean, um, Michelle, like really, she was like, you should take ballet, you know? And it really helped me in the sense of like, just being disciplined and, and learning how to, you know, memorize, you know, when you're the bar, like how to memorize things, you know, and one of my first jobs actually as a dancer was I, I randomly audition to dance for the New York Knicks basketball team. You know, they have a kid squad that would dance, like during timeouts and specifically at their home games and during halftime. Um, but I went, I remember going to the audition and not and doing pretty bad. And I came home from school one day and there was a message on the answering machine that I got gotten the job. I was like, okay, well now I actually have to do this. And I couldn't remember how to, um, I couldn't remember the steps. So the captain and the choreographer of the small group of kids, there was maybe 15 of us. They would always create a moment in their routine where everyone would stop or the kids would stop and like go down and I would just get the freestyle and then everything else. I was always like three steps behind and watching the kid next to me.
Yes. Like full side eye. I
I call it the one at Jack. Yep.
As we would, some of the dances were only 15 seconds because it's like a timeout and basketball. So it would be 10 seconds of me doing this. And then five seconds of like, do whatever you want.
And everybody else is bugging. And you just like feature. I love this. What a brilliant, smart director, again, the smart director. And this might be the beginning of you becoming a smart director. Matter of fact, I love the, this trajectory like, Oh my gosh, it's so poetic jumping through hula hoops and then probably jumping through actual hoops for the rest of your life right? Now you are working very closely with some of the most influential pop people of our time, Billie Eilish, uh, Shawn Mendes, Justin Bieber, Pink, Blackpink, which is different from regular. And I'm such a fan PS, Selena Gomez, the 1975, which by the way, I am a super fan. Um, so from where I stand the way it looks like you use choreography, not just in the work that you choreograph, but in the work that you direct as well from the out, from where I stand, it looks like you use dance as like a supporting act, a supporting thing, a very essential, but supporting element. In other words, like not the star, it's not like dance break six, seven, eight. Um, and am I totally off target or off target or is that how you, how you think about dance? Yeah,
I think you're pretty spot on, I don't know if I, if that's ha that's how I think about it. Or even like, sometimes the jobs that I get, I don't even know. That's what they're thinking about a lot of the time it's like I get paired with an artist that is either really interested in dancing and wanting to dance. Um, so it's, it usually starts with wanting to learn how to dance. First of all, because a lot of the people that I work with don't dance at all, um, or they say that they don't dance
That old wives tale.
And even just, I think the word dance as a broad term of blanket statement and of, you know, it isn't a genre, but like, I would say like dance and movements, they're very much the same, but I think it, I think it just depends how you see it because dance is a difficult thing to do, if you're a master at it. Which like, or if it's you, if it's your career, it's like us as dancers that have trained years, we don't think it's, I mean, it's not difficult. It is difficult, but we don't think of it as something that's difficult compared to like someone who doesn't train in dance, just like someone, like, I don't sing, I think singing is a difficult thing, you know? Um, but yeah, it usually it starts with wanting to learn how to dance or move. And sometimes it evolves into a lot of the times, some of the things I'm trying to teach them is like becoming aware, like awareness of what your body is doing or what it feels like to do this thing and how you can connect it to movement. Um, and every project is different. Like some things that come in, you know, it's a day of rehearsal and it's like, someone wants to learn how to dance in a day. That is it's, it's a bit laughable, but it's like, sometimes it's the job that you have to do. And, um, and some projects you have more time and sometimes it's like, people are preparing to dance for this one thing, but if it's, sometimes it is one day and, um, a lot of the time it's, it's them, once they discover like, Oh, I actually don't want to dance and to learn the steps, I just want to be able to move and like be expressive. Yes. Right. And depending on, like, if it's a music video that has a loose narrative, it's like, how can we express the narrative through our bodies? Because they're already doing it, you know, in a music video is so visually and, um, through voice and sonically. So just kind of that added bonus is like, can we do it physically? Yeah. Metaphysically. And is there something that connects to it? And again, there are some projects that if it's like, they just want to learn the steps and it's just dance. And it becomes very visual. And like, I guess, like for, for me and my tastes like it's accessory, you know, and sometimes it's to amplify the productions, to amplify the song with the artist and not necessarily tell a story,
Um, on the subject of dance while we are here, can we please talk it, he's probably one of the lesser known artists that you've worked for or choreographed, but it is my favorite music video, certainly that you've done. But out of like a bundle, like dare I say, this is in my top 10, um, Leon Else’s music video for dance. I absolutely adore it. And it is one of it's one of my favorite things about it is that dance is the star. It is big. It is brave. It is expressive. It is bold. And actually I take that back. It is Leon dancing. That is the star. Yes. Dance is huge in that piece. Um, the camera movement, I don't know if this was intentional. I can't wait to find out if it was the camera movement reminds me a little bit of Flashdance. It feels like, like her audition sequence, like we're really following her dancing. And I don't know, I like my heart rate goes up. Just thinking about that music video. Could you talk a little bit about that experience in that process for you?
That was like one of the first videos that I was asked to choreograph as a choreographer up until that I was spending a lot of time just assisting and like being a sponge and learning from a lot of my mentors. And I, um, was working on a job as an assistant and I met, um, what they call the commissioner. You know, the, the role of a commissioner in the world of music videos is a basically bring on the teams to, you know, execute the videos. And so I was working, um, on a job for Madonna, I think with Megan Lawson and, um, the commissioner Michelle Anne and who now is like a mentor of mine. She, she, um, approached me and was like, Hey, would, would you be interested in choreographing? You know, this video and this, the artist is here's the song. Um, this is a treatment, you know, a lot of times you get a treatment, which is basically a rough overview of visually the tone of the music video. Sometimes it's very detailed and sometimes it's like one page and just text and maybe one image, uh, and this one was very vague and it was just like, Leon Else, the song was called dance. He, Leon himself actually, he used to dance. He was like, he was a dancer in the movie Nine, I think. Um, and he just, he wanted to dance and the song was very like Prince inspired. And the director was very inspired, um, by Flashdance, but I think I need to rewatch it and see
It's really the camera movement, not the angles or the, obviously not the location, but the spirit of it, the way that it's championed movement,
There is a Fatboy Slim music video that he referenced, which is, uh, with Christopher Walken,
It’s weapon of choice. That video is incredible.
It's It's Spike Jones. And I think
Brian Friedman Okay.
I thought it was Wade
Well, Brian, Brian plays his dance double, sorry, let me take that back. Brian, Was it Michael Rooney?
It might've been, he was working with Fatboy Slim at the time. Um, so yeah, those were some of the little, um, tonal references. Um, and so I kind of took it upon myself instead of, I didn't have a reel, at the time I was just assisting. So I spend a few months, a few dollars to get a friend of mine that had a camera rented a space, and conceptually basically shot a concept video, full thing top to bottom, which is very rare. Like you don't really do that, but I had nothing to show at the time. Um, and I worked on it for maybe three days and then we spent one night shooting. It, it was like four of us paid for some lights. I had a friend of mine like help with some of the lighting and we, and we shot the video and I sent it over to Michelle and Leon and the director. And they're like, this is the video. This is,
Oh, that's cool.
And it was, that was, yeah, it was really cool. And that was kind of the start of a, like, up until that point, I had been doing a lot of assisting and feeling like so much learning. And I was like, I wonder if, if any of this is paying off, let's put this to the tests, you know? And, um, yeah, it, I kind of basically, they were like, we want to do exactly what you did. And top to bottom, you know, I had a chair, all the steps and we, I was like, I want to learn every single step that you did. And he nailed it. And I brought in actually Jillian, cause I'm not a tap dancer and there's a tap sequence. And I was like, let's just bring in all the friends. And she came up with the tap sequence and she taught it to me and she ended up teaching it to Leon I think one day, um, and it was, yeah, I think it was the start of like a nice relationship between, um, me and Leon, me and the director, me and Michelle, again, it's like strong mentor of mine still. Um, and yeah, it's yeah, it's definitely, I wish that he had done more. Um, he doesn't, he doesn't do music anymore, but he was, it was such a fun project to be a part of. And yeah. And it kind of like, I think, yeah, again, it was like a nice, like, um, launching pad for the start of like, feeling like a, getting confidence to be, I can do this myself, you know, and testing like, Oh, I have these ideas that I have in my head. Like, let's put them on camera. Like I I've always wanted to.
Uh, that's so much fun. Um, that process that you're talking about, like just trying it, film it, try to try to make on camera, the thing that you see in your head, um, and then submitting that and then getting no notes, but saying like, let's just do that. It's one of my favorite things. It doesn't happen all the time. It sort of happened for Jillian Myers with Work Song, for Hozier, which was, uh, an awesome, shared moment in you and my dance history together. So fond of that period. Um, but I also, I did something similar with Anthony Ramos for, um, his song mind over matter, um, which was so much fun to brainstorm and create. And ultimately the thing we made transferred almost directly into what the final edit was. And it's, I love that mode of making where you prototype it fast and rough, and then you upgrade it into this beautiful, Epic thing. Is that a process that you have sort of made commonplace in your work? Do you do this kind of pre-vis and then make it big?
Honestly, that was probably the only time I ever did it. Um, and I think there's, I mean, yes, I think there is a beauty in prototyping, something and it translating exactly the way you wanted, but I also am obsessed with this idea of collaboration and I'm always the person that thinks that, like I have the worst idea and there's always somebody with a better idea. So let me throw my worst idea at the wall and someone who can come along and like make it even better. And then maybe someone will make that idea even better. So we get, you know, the, the mega product. Um, so I think, again, it just depends on the project. I love collaborating. I love talking to other creatives that have different perspectives. You know, I may see something in one light as a choreographer and dancer, but there might be a director who thinks of this or a cinematographer that thinks that the camera should go here or it should have this type of movement to translate this type of emotion that I'm not seeing when thinking about, because sometimes like when you're so involved in the projects, you lose sight of it, you know, at once, like something that you're seeing as a forest now you're inside and you only see trees, right? So it takes somebody from an outside perspective, um, to, to be like, Oh, there's something behind you that you're not seeing.
Yes. I really love that idea. Those, those prototype videos can be really limiting. If you fall in love with that one thing that you've watched 75 times on your phone, it can be really hard to let go of certain ideas. Yeah. That's, that's cool. That's very wise. Um, okay. So, so in terms of like becoming a choreographer for music videos, becoming a director, becoming all of these many things, I am super interested in your trajectory because you've played different roles in different dance worlds. So it's not even just that you're carrying a different title, but you've shown up in different like worlds of dance. Um, you were a touring dancer with Ariana Grande a right. Yes. But you also performed with Kidd Pivot in Reviser, and this is, um, a company that you may not know. Some people, well, you Matty P you know, but if you're listening and don't know Kidd Pivot, don't be harsh on yourself. Um, if you don't know Crystal Pite, don't be harsh on yourself, but do go find out because it's true that some people might not know them, but I don't think I know anybody that does know, but does not love in crystal pipe. Could you talk a little bit about that for a moment?
Yeah. I, I th I think, again, it kind of stems from, um, when I first started dancing. Um, and again, going back to my dance studio at Michelle Ferraro's, she, um, gave a lot of the students the opportunity to take classes from outside choreographers. And one of those choreographers just to kind of a backstory who was became, one of my mentors was Justin Giles, who also, you know, very well. And he came in during the summer intensive and he was the first male figure that at the time, which was called lyrical, which were kind of contemporary, right. He was the first person that was doing something that I experienced that was different. That wasn't, um, necessarily all the, my leg didn't go in the air. I could barely do a double turn. He was like listening to music and his physicality was something that I could relate to because he came from a background of the sports and like, it wasn't just like what your body can physically do. Right. It was like, there was something more behind it. Um, and I was really drawn to that. So I think once I kind of, once I took his class, I was kind of, I was, I was in the, like really in deep and I just reached out to him and I just started following him around the country and taking his classes on conventions. And I think after a year or two, he basically was like, took me under his wing. I started assisting him and, and learning from him and basically his technique, his movement style, um, which like then kind of opened up a door into like contemporary dance. And I was like, what is, you know, I want to learn more, you know, so I would do more research about other choreographers and, um, who else came up, Chris Jacobson, Mia Michaels, you know, all these amazing choreographers and teachers, uh, Peter Chu as well. And I started working with Peter chew through the commercial. Uh, I moved to LA in 2005 and I, I was doing this variety show called Paris by Night, which is an it's, uh, an interesting projects. But, uh, I don't know if it's still even going on anymore, but, um, it's basically a Vietnamese variety show that it's all, all it's mainly Asian and it's, it was based in a way it's basically a variety show of comedians, singers, actors, sketch comedy and dance. And that's where I met Peter Chu, Pam Chu a lot of the working dancers like that work here in LA
Bryan Tanaka was in on that mix.
Uh, um, Tracy Shibata like literally everybody. Um, and yeah, so I met Peter Chu doing, doing that commercial project and he ended up taking, uh, asking, inviting me to, um, be a part of a workshop for a show that he was putting on.
Nothing sticks, and that was, uh, referred. I was referred to Peter through Pam who again, came to my studio and would teach at intensives. Yeah. Pam taught me. Yeah. Um, and I ended up like saying yes, and I worked with Peter and at the time Peter was working with Crystal Pite. He was part of Kidd Pivot. And he basically introduced me to Crystal Pite, not physically, but, um, the, the movement language. And, and then again, similar, the same feeling of when I discovered Crystal’s work was the same feeling that when I discovered Justin Giles’ work,
Like this is home in my body.
Yeah. Yeah. I think so. Maybe not yet, but it looked like it was, and it looked like it felt right. You know, it didn't. Yeah. But I was like, this is something that it's calling to me and, um, it's striking something within a, and so I, I would study Crystal Pite’s work for years, just watching videos, going to any shows that I could,
Right. Because the videos aren't many she's or has been up until very recently, when you can find some full length works online, getting your eyes on Crystal's work is not as easy as getting your eyes on Tik Tok or like YouTube dance stars. You had to work
At the time, YouTube, there was maybe 15 second clips of like a trailer to her shows. And then again, at the time, like on the boards had something where you could purchase Dark Matters for a limited time. And I purchased it and recorded it somehow. I don't know how I watched the show like obsessively and I learned everyone's part and I would go into the studio and do it to the best of my ability. And I kind of like tried to, you know, obviously I don't understand like where the movement is being derived from, but I would try to replicate it. Um, and then I, then I did more research and then I would time block, um, my summers to only go to intensives for Crystal Pite. And I took from basically every single company member that would teach Crystal Pite workshops for like three years. I would do it. I did it and I just ate it up. And, um, in 2018, a couple of years ago, um, through taking all the workshops and meeting all of the company members and being, um, close friends with some of them, Peter being one of them Cindy Silgado was a teacher and friend as well. Jermaine Spivey um, there, there came a point when Crystal was making a new show and she was looking for an understudy at the time and the three company members and Beauchesne and who's the, um, is the associate director now, but I was taking his classes like every summer, they all kind of referred me and I had never met Crystal and she had never seen me dance. It was only just through the company saying like, you know, should email Matty and, and just talk to him. Um, and ironically, she, she did, and it was such a weird time because it was like around the time it was actually like maybe two days before my dad had just passed away. I remember getting an email in my inbox and it was Crystal Pite. And I remember looking at it and being, I can't look at this right now, but this is really big. And also again, at the time, like that was only two years ago, I kind of like was like, I need to like, put this goal aside. It was a goal that I had for a long time to dance with Kidd Pivot. And there was a time where I was like, it's just not in the cards for me. You know, I'm going to focus on being a choreographer and directing and stuff like that. And, you know, she came up with, um, uh, basically a proposal of like, can you, you know, she gave me three options. Can you come in to Vancouver and just stay for a week and watch and learn, um, and just get to know each other. Uh, and then option B was, would you want to be an understudy and learn all the male parts? And then the third was like, if you were really interested come for the whole creation watch and maybe I'll have, I'll be able to like write in apart for you. And I was like, yes, option three. Like we're doing option three.
Wow. How incredible is that? Yeah. Yeah,
It was, I mean, it was an incredible experience that I'm obviously always hold very dear to my heart. Um, but yeah, I, I went to Vancouver and got to work with who I call the Avengers of Dance, because it's literally, you know, these masters of dance from all around the world and they're so good at what they do specifically. And when they come together, it's like, they are the Avengers.
Oh my gosh, I'm going to Photoshop a flyer. Um, it's true though. The, the, I think there's something special though. I do want to point out like Crystal's work is not, I maybe similar to yours is not like about dance and like the spectacle of dance. It's theatrical, it's comedic in strange ways. It's dark in beautiful ways. It's it's narrative, but it's, it's abstract. It is. I am falling short of words and I'm a person that podcasts. Theres also something special about her team there. They're not just physical bodies that are great physical, um, sculptors, but intellectual being sensitive beings, thoughtful beings, like people that to spend a summer with, it sounds like the dream.
Summer and yeah. A half a year, you know, touring and performing the show and working on things. And, um, yeah, and I think similar to Crystal when she started her work was very dance heavy, but she other interests kind of stemmed from just doing the one dance thing. Um, and also like there's something to be said in the people that the environment that she creates, you know, she brings in these amazing people and she has so much trust in them, which gives them a lot of confidence and, um, to produce amazing things, you know? And
Would you call it a nurturing environment?
I would say nurturing, challenging. Um, it's, it's like all of the, and sometimes like, it doesn't feel nurturing, but then after you get through the monotony of it, you realize, you look back and you're like, Oh, wow. She like, she yoda(ed) me a little bit.
Ah, Ooh. Masterful, like
It's, it's the most physical I've ever been in my entire life. Awesome. In terms of the movement, for sure.
I can’t imagine I have taken her class once before at Jacob's pillow. Um, w uh, I went to go watch Dark Matters there, and she taught a small workshop and it was very gentle. Like it was designed to be accessible to any, anybody that wanted to explore the work. And I was a baby infant learning how to walk and the next day. My body was like, Oh, you're you thought you were a dancer? Yeah. Okay. That's cute.
When I came in the first day, first week of rehearsals of creation, again, like I wasn't really actively dancing. I was really focused on in choreographing and everybody else in the company has been company NDT, Batsheva, um, tends theater
And they're doing it like the whole year. I haven't been there. I hadn't been dancing like that three or four or five years. Yeah. I was shot out of the cannon. Yeah.
I love where, where it landed you. I mean, that's a dream.
Yeah. And I think, yeah, part of the, um, the reason why I wanted to take part in it is a, you know, check that box off of my list of things, but also like to learn from all of these people. Yeah. You know, Crystal and Eric and all the, all the company members, you know, Jay, the production designer, sound designers, you know, seeing how things get put together. So interesting to me, that was why I decided I wanted to choreograph and become a director because like, when I first started dancing, like, I didn't even know that you could dance with dancing was a career path. And the first time I was on set, I'm a part of this show, but also on the other side of it, there's a whole show happening that you're watching that you either take notice to, or, you know, and that was something that I couldn't get over to show that's happening behind the show that's being shot. Right.
The show that's being put on for the performer, the performer is standing there performing, receiving this show. Yes. Amazing. Yes. I love it. And it's a unique, that's such a unique perspective.
Yes. Yeah. Yeah. It was something that was like, who knew that things happen? Like how does these things get made? And I think it's, yeah. And the same thing with Crystal, like, you know, we put on the show in the theater, but people don't, people in the audience don't understand, like the sound design that's being triggered. And during this part of the, you know, choreography or, and why this light means this thing and like all the people that are behind the stage and so interesting it's magic.
It is. Um, I'm glad that you mentioned this team element and the many different moving parts of a production. What I would love to talk about now is just like focus in on the relationship between artist and director in this, in this specific conversation. Let's talk about artist and choreographer. I do, I would consider like crystal Pite the artist and her team, the movement part, but there's like the artist. And then the movement part, that's such an interesting relationship to me. And in, in pop, at least there are a few examples of that team working really, really well. Like I'm the one that's the closest to me obviously is JT and Marty Kudelka, but there are others there's um, like Ryan Heffington and SIA, or Michael Jackson and Michael Peters who did, uh, who did Beat it and Thriller, um, uh, Frank Gatson and a number of people. Like there are combinations where you find that one plus one does not equal two, but one plus one equals a million. Yes. Um, and I, I guess you've got some really creatively fruitful collaborations, relationships going on right now. What do you think is that exponent, or what do you look for in a collaborator that equals 1 million.
I think chemistry for one and intention. It's like some artists that I work with, sometimes the chemistry just isn't there and the intention is different than what I'm interested in. And then sometimes, you know, we have the same interests, the same intention, and usually that's where kind of the spark starts there. And then from there, you can start to, you know, for instance like Billie or, or Shawn, like Shawn is, is a new relationship I have, but it's a very potent, and it's a very strong one. He's very interested in dance and theater and movement, and might not always want to access it, but he's interested in it because it makes him feel a certain way. And it, maybe it adds to another part of his life that it feels like it's helping and assisting whether it's songwriting or just being a kind human or just being more open to other art forms.
Most all of the people I work with are musicians, you know, sometimes actors, but, um, and being to like wanting to connect to their body is like also really important, um,
As an instrument.
Yeah. As an instrument, as a form of meditation, um, and just, uh, connecting to something that feels like, um, that's, that's deeper than it's, that's inside themselves, you know? Um, and you know, these collaborations that you're talking about, you know, Marty and JT and Ryan and SIA, like there was a point where I was like, Oh, I really, I really want that, but in net. But I think in the way that I like to work, it never really, at least from my perspective, it never really, I guess my relationships are strong, but they're not to me. Like when I see JT, it's like, he's such a dancer and you know, and him and Marty are, you know, Marty, you can tell it's Marty he's, they are one person, the one entity, you know, and same with like Maddie and Ryan and SIA, you know, the three of them were like, I like to be in service to the artist. I like to work with them and help them discover their own voice. You know, Billie has a dance background, but she's not necessarily interested in doing, in running five, six, seven, eight. She wants to know. Yeah. Yeah. Where I can propose an idea, try this thing here, five, six, seven, eight, and she'll learn it and then bend it and manipulate it to feel more natural. Cause she's saying, thinking like, this feels better for me or, or this makes more sense or, you know, doing this here feels unnatural. So I think that's, my job is to kind of be that, that honest mirror and say, I'm like, try this thing. This is what I think would work well, and let's talk about it. Let's have a discussion. And a lot of the time, these that's where it starts like having discussions and kind of getting to know each other and trust. Yeah. And I think the key thing is like making somebody feel safe so they can do whatever they want behind closed doors, when it's me and the artist, let's just, let's, let's just be around and mess around. Let's try the things that we can try now, you know, let's do the most silly, insane thing and get it out of our system because maybe there's something that we feel that will connect and then maybe we can, you know, let's get us started on a right path, you know, and then we fine tune it until it's ready to be, to be seen because I'm a, I'm an advocate for like, not everything needs to be shown and seen there's magic behind the process and incubation and, and development, you know, and let's wait, you know,
Yeah. Think so.
Ah, yes. You are a magician. I think, um, always something of this sleeve. You don't need to see everything. That's the spoils, the magic.
Yeah. Yeah. Showing little bits and pieces, but I mean, I think there's, there's massive behind, like how did they do that thing or, Oh God, yes. That didn't come from, you know, it makes you want more, at least for me, when I see things that I don't understand and I'm dying to know what it is, it makes me want to keep watching it, you know? Yeah.
And that is the goal. Okay. That's awesome. Right. Like this edge of the seat thing, that's the goal. Okay. So let's talk about Shawn for a sec. Can we talk about Wonder, because Holy smokes, it is so beautiful and powerful. It is wonderful. Um, I adore it and I'm so proud of you. I think it's a awesome example of you and your work. Like I see you in it. I see him in it. It does seem like a service to not like the pop machine, but to expression in general to, um, imagination, to whimsy. And these are all things that I love. I think it's so great. Um, what, what did you learn on that project? That's what I want to know. What did you learn?
Um, uh, man, I learned so many things,
Right? What did you not learn
The project? And one of the, probably today, the biggest project that I, um, that I've done. And I'm so grateful for, to Shawn for giving me the opportunity, because there were times where maybe, you know, as a new director, you know, having trust and faith in someone that they can execute things is a big deal, especially when you're a huge pop star and there's a lot at stake. That's things you have to realize, you know, and obviously like he, he was willing to take a risk. Um, but I think also at the heart of it, I really connected to the song and the honesty that he was trying to get across. Um, and like most music videos, you, you pitch against other directors, you know, and whoever has, you know, and obviously the artist picks, and there was a point where I was pitching against another director and he, there was a time where he would potentially just wanted me to be the choreographer, which I'm fine with, you know, I have a great relationship with them. And again, like, I want to do whatever I'm in service to Shawn and whatever he wants. And he thinks is the best I'm going to do it full force. Obviously I'm going to be bummed that like, potentially if I don't get to direct it, you know, but there was something in me that like, really, I really cared about this project. And I just had a conversation with him. I was like, listen, I really care this thing. I really care about this thing. And I think that kind of stuck with him and he kind of made the decision, like, let's do it, you know? Um, but I think from what I learned is like how to be a great communicator as we've discussed before. And, um, I've never, I've, I've felt I've never been a fan of, of egos. Um, and I think when you can lose your ego, you can receive like so much more, um, and utilizing the team that I put around me to help Shawn and, and, and execute the vision. Um, and it was a long process, but I think like getting to work with all these people that I admire so much, and they're so good at what they do, it just fuels the fire. Um, and it gets me really excited to see like my friends and peers, like, do what they do at such a high level. Um, and there's a synergy between like having a strong vision and people also like really, um, getting excited about that vision, you know, and it's kind of that yes and, um, yes, let's do this and let's do this and train and sure enough, we would build and build and build. And I'm a huge fan of referencing. I think referencing is a huge tool that people don't always use. Right.
It's in so many ways how we communicate when we deal in imaginary things and things that we imagination things that are yet to be created. Yeah.
Yeah. Cause some people don't have vision or it's really hard to like, obviously what I see in my head is different, what you see here, but if we have a strong reference points and I can understand that this is solely a reference, this is a starting point. Um, I think that really helped me.
Do you, do you draw on just your internal database of remembered images or are you a Pinterest person? Uh, a Google images person. I know I have, I have a couple of secret databases that, um, that you listeners will have to pay for it. If you want to know where I get all my brilliant gems. But when you make references, are you pulling from your memory or do you have you have secret places?
It's, it's, it's a little bit of everything. Um, books that I read, because I love to write and being good, being exceptional with your words and how to illustrate a picture is it's valuable.
So valuable, especially if you're pitching, if you have to get the job before you have the job, you have to be able to explain what you're going to do with it.
Yeah. So I think, like I read a lot of books of different genres poetry, because they would poetry it's really short and make sometimes long, but usually really potent in their words. Um, I have visual databases, shot deck is an incredible database. I don't know if you're familiar with that. Um, which basically it's a catalog of many exquisite films and it's basically just screen grabs of beautiful films, um, um, YouTube,
Right? The monster of all database,
Um, for a long time when I was learning, because I didn't go to film school, I would go to the public library and just get books and read and study, you know, how to direct and things like that. Um, yeah, it comes from, it comes from all different mediums.
That's awesome. I love this. Um, well it looks like you are excited playing in this space. It looks like you are indulging in pop and entertainment. Um, you are able to make and create and live in other areas of the dance world, but it looks like you're enjoying this, this place that you're in. Um, I am curious though, because especially because it's changing so much right now, what is your attitude towards the entertainment industry in general.
In general? Uh, I love entertainment. I love all the different forms that entertainment offers, whether it's, um, surely just to transport someone, to make them feel good. If it's to connect to somebody to tell a story that maybe, you know, the loss of somebody or, you know, graduating high school is something that we can connect to that emotionally. Um, that tells a story. Um, obviously there are bad things about entertainment that, you know, the news is a form of entertainment, which could lead you down a dark path,
Another episode maybe.
But I think, I think again, talking about perspective, I think it's just how you look at it. You know, you could take it at face value or you can look at it and say, you know, it could be, you can take it personally or you can just let it run off your back. And I think it's depends on how you do it. I like, I love entertainment. I love what I do. I love watching other people do what they do, especially when they're really good at it. You know, it makes me want to be better at what I do know
Well said my friend,
What about you?
Um, I think actually very similarly people say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but everything is in the eye of the beholder. I think the world of entertainment and of entertainers, I think it is a brilliant medium and speaking of yes, and.. I think that it is best used when it is a, um, a cloak, like a disguise for education. It's one of my biggest aspirations in life to make education entertaining and to like sneak attack somebody and inform them, introduce them to a new idea, um, get them understanding things deeper, but they think they just watched a movie or they think they just watched a music video, but like they think they just had fun, but actually there was some mastery, some masterminding going on underneath. So that's, that's why I love it. And that's what I think about it. Um, but, but again, all in the eye of the beholder, I've certainly had experiences with entertainment where I thought that it was telling me that I'm wrong. So I felt bad. Or I thought that it was not a place that I was allowed. So I felt like an outsider, but those were all just what I thought about it. That wasn't the industry itself doing that to me. So, so yeah, I, I agree. I relate. And on that, maybe we, we wrap it up. Matthew Peacock. Yay. Thank you so much for being here. I can't explain, um, low key created a podcast so that I could talk to my friends in depth like this, about our work uninterrupted for an hour at a time. I really, I really appreciate this. Thank you so much.
Thank you, Wilson.
Oh, and you're great at talking about yourself and your work, by the way, that was so much fun.
All right. What did I tell you so much? Good. Right. Such a treat. I especially loved the way that Matty talks about collaboration and the evolution of ideas. I so dig this concept that the first idea might not be the best idea. It might even be a bad idea, but only once it's out there in the open, in the, uh, trusted space, which hopefully includes some bright, brave and bold collaborators. Only, only once it's out there, can it be built upon or even broken down or otherwise constructed into something? Great. Great. Is his work great is his being, thank you, Matty Peacock for that. Now let's talk about you and your greatness shall we? Let's celebrate. Let's do some wins this week. I am celebrating my past self and a lesson that I learned from her when I stumbled upon a sizzle reel for a web series that I made nine years ago. Holy Smokes. Um, the series, if you call three episodes, a series is called it more than moves and it is still on YouTube. Actually. I think you might have to look More than Moves TV to find it. And, um, I posted the sizzle that I found to my personal Instagram account last week. It is funky. It is smart. It is fun. And it is what Matty and I were talking about at the end of that interview, which is education disguised as entertainment. It was awesome. And it taught me so many things. Um, my long-term lesson learned, however, and what I want to share with you today is that it is wise to spread out your resources. I spend a lot of my hard earned cashola on that project. And I turned it into three 20 minute episodes if given a second chance, which who knows, I would probably turn that into 20 3 minute episodes. Um, yeah. So spread out the resources gang, but do not spread out the enthusiasm, if anything rang true to me about watching that sizzle it's that I was and am a person that loves dance. It feels so good. Celebrations. All right, now it's your turn. What is going well in your world? What are you celebrating past, present or future?
All right. My friend, congratulations. I am proud of you. I am celebrating your win seriously. I wish you could see me. I'm grinning ear to ear. All right. Now, um, before I sign off, I want to let you know that it is not too late to register for the first month of the words that move me community membership. If you're digging what you are hearing in here, then you will definitely be digging. What goes on in there. Um, of course it is a monthly membership. You can join at any time, but I'm exceptionally excited about this first month, which is February because the group of members that has assembled is simply incredible. So a special thank you to everyone who has pre-registered. I cannot wait to get this show on the road, um, to learn more about that, about the membership and how you might register, be sure to check out TheDanaWilson.com and click on the Membership tab. Yes, indeed. The website has been going through some changes. Thank you so much, Malia Baker. Um, yeah, super simple. Now all you need to do in order to find more information and register for the Words that Move Me Community Membership is go to the theDanawilson.com and click on the membership tab. Boom. That is it for me today. You guys have an awesome rest of your day, night, week, month, year, all of it. And, um, of course, keep it funky. I'll talk to you soon.
Me again, wondering if you ever noticed that one more time. Almost never means one more time. Well, here on the podcast, one more thing actually means two more things. Number one thing. If you're digging the pod, if these words are moving you, please don't forget to download, subscribe and leave a rating or review because your words move me. Number two things I make more than weekly podcasts. So please visit thedanawilson.com for links to free workshops and so much more. All right, that's it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.
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