Speaker 0 00:00:03 This is 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 master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you're someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don't stop moving because you're in the right place. All right. All right, my friend, this is Dana. This is words that move me and you are tuning in to our final replay episode of the month. The words that move me team is taking a little bit of a break and taking a little bit of time to remind you of some of our all time favorite episodes. And this one right here, this is a chart topper. If, if I made a Venn diagram of my favorite people, my favorite movers and my favorite podcast episodes, these two humans would land squarely in the middle. Is that possible landing squarely in the middle of three circles. We can talk about the diagrams another time for now. I will leave you in the very capable hands and voices of Spencer Thiebaud, Berg and Jermaine spy
Speaker 1 00:01:25 Movie, man. Oh man.
Speaker 0 00:01:28 These two, just blow my mind and my heart wide open. So please enjoy and download and listen 1000 times to this replay of episode 29 movement matters with Spencer fie, Berg and Jermaine spidey. I'll talk to you later. All right. All right. Hello everybody. And welcome to words that move me. I'm Dana. I am so jazzed about this episode and I know that I always say that, but really this one is special. It is special because my guests are special, so special. It is special because I learned so much about myself, about my craft, about my relationship to the world that I'm living in right now. Um, and I also learned a lot more about audio editing. So here comes the heads up. The audio quality is not the greatest on this episode, but the, every other quality is the greatest. So this episode is my win for the week. Your turn, what's going well in your world. Let's see if I can keep Timbo five to six to seven.
Speaker 0 00:03:08 Yes. Good for you. I'm so glad that you're winning. Keep it up and celebrate yourself. It's so important. Okay. Now I don't want to take too much more time before I invite you to the table. Well, the zoom, I guess, with my guests today, Spencer Berg is originally from Portland Juilliard grad danced for NDT two and NDT one that's Netherlands dance theater for you, non dance types. Um, the Forsyth company, he's the winner of the princess grace award. He currently teaches for Cal arts. Um, but most importantly, I want to tell you that his choreography makes me weep tears of laughter and also tears of a very special brand of admiration. He is a truly special artist and I am so honored and flattered to call him to call both of these gentlemen, my friends. All right. So up next we have the one and only Jermaine <inaudible>.
Speaker 0 00:04:10 He is from Baltimore, also a Julliard grad. Also a princess grace winner also has danced for all of the companies that I Google and all of the companies that you should Google. Um, he is currently teaching for USC Kaufman, but beyond all of those things, I cannot think of a single thing, more mesmerizing in this world than watching Jermaine dance. That was at least until we had this conversation. And I learned that it is equally mesmerizing to dig in to words with him, with him and with Spencer, both truly mesmerizing. Um, this conversation simply blows my mind wide open. So without any further ado, please enjoy this conversation with Jermaine <inaudible> and Spencer Freeburg
Speaker 1 00:05:05 Spencer and germane. Holy smokes. Thank you so much for joining me today on the podcast. I am thrilled to have you welcome. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Um, this is kind of par for the course. This is sort of how I do it on the pod. Please introduce you.
Speaker 2 00:05:30 Um, okay. I will introduce myself. My name is Jermaine spike. I am an artist. I'm a performing artist. I am re-upped for my educator. I am a learner. A person in this world, um, loves to create.
Speaker 1 00:06:01 That's a beautiful introduction. Thank you. Nice to meet you. All right, Spencer hit it.
Speaker 2 00:06:08 I'm Spencer thievery. And that is how you say my last name. I've been
Speaker 1 00:06:13 Saying it wrong for like four years now.
Speaker 2 00:06:17 Yes, it's true. I am Spencer fever. Uh, I also echo what Jermaine says. I am a artist. I work in, I work in dance, but I don't feel like I only live in dance. I am excited by interdisciplinary things. Um, I'm interested in collaborations and the permeable worlds in terms of art and genre. Um, I teach I dance, uh, and I'm also germane their partners.
Speaker 1 00:06:56 You guys, this is the first time I'm having a couple on the podcast. I'm so jazzed about this. Okay. Um, thank you for your introductions. I have a million questions for you about your work and what it's like to collaborate with your significant other and what it is like to be in an interracial relationship in the summer of 2020 and how the black lives matter movement is impacting you and how are you impacting it and what it means to be like, whoa, all the things I have, all the questions. So slow down, Wilson. Um, let me simplify and ask you. It's a lot. It's a lot. Um, let me just simplify and ask you to tell me something you would like for people to know about your relations or is it top secret? Oh, no. It's
Speaker 2 00:07:49 I think, yeah. Okay. I'm gonna start that up. I think I would like people to know that it is, it's a constant effort and I don't mean that in a negative way. It's actually very positive. We're constantly trying to see each other for who we are and how we're evolving and how we do that together. How we do that side by side, I really, really, really don't respond to the idea of, you know, you meet someone and that is happily ever after, like, you're the same person I met and it's like, yes, I am a version of that. But I'm also hopefully changing and growing and learning and evolving definitely tries to do that next. We're next to each other with each other. Okay.
Speaker 1 00:08:55 Change baby change.
Speaker 2 00:08:58 Yeah, both James right now. I would also add, um, or piggyback then say that, um, there's the idea that we're always partners. It's not like we are, we are. And then what I mean by that is our relationship as partners. We're always doing that. We're doing that when we're making work together, we're doing that when we're making breakfast together, we're doing that when Jermaine's on a tour and I'm home and we're not physically together, we're always partners. Sometimes I think that there's, um, you know, the car compartmentalizing idea of we, you're not, we're not in our relationship and we're making work together. For instance, like once we entered this room, it's a bridge, it's a different, it's a different story or something. And that's not the case with us. We very much are always exploring and interrogating, but our relationship feeds and that's in the art we make as well. Uh, and I think that we hope that our art changes and develops over time. And so why don't, why not treat ourselves like that to change and develop over
Speaker 1 00:10:14 Time. Uh, I love that sentiment. I love the idea of perpetual evolution and, uh, specifically hopefully progress, right. Um, also germane I'm so glad you brought up effort. And that is what I would like to segue with into this next part of the conversation. So I think it was after, and we can go back a little bit to our history as friends in a second, but I think it was after gen four, which was certainly the most, um, amount of time I spent with you guys, like period. But I think after gen four, um, I dug into a search for more of you both because after that week of watching you dance, I just could not say to myself. So I was just looking for more. And I remember stumbling upon, um, short film that was directed by Dana Casperson and it's part of her, um, changing the conversation book.
Speaker 1 00:11:18 I think she made little chunks from her book, changing the conversation, the 17 principles of conflict resolution. And, um, I was so delighted by this thing. Uh, and then I dug more on Dana and I became so delighted by her. Uh, she says that conflict is the origin of all creative action, which is like the smarter older sibling version of my saying, which is creativity is simply problem solving. But she, she says that conflict is inevitable and she adds that destructive conflict is not inevitable. That's the choice part. Um, she, she explains describing non-destructive conflict as just dynamic tension effort. And to me that sounds kind of like fun dynamic tension reminds me of a first date or of like the early years of a relationship dynamic tension. Sounds like, oh, I like that versus conflict is something that I think is, is kind of has this negative connotation. Um, but, uh, one of the things I like most about you guys, both in your life in and your work is that you don't avoid conflict or effort, um, or tension. Actually, I would say that you guys are both masters of tension and release of tension and Spencer, you do it with humor, Jermaine, you do it with your body. Um, could you guys talk about how you use tension in your work and in your relationship?
Speaker 2 00:12:48 Well, Dana, thank you. I love that that's something you're observing because it's, we talk about conflicts all the time and it is really at the heart of our creations. It's also at the heart of the process of creating. Um, we get along really well. We disagree. I wouldn't say we have maybe fun. Um, however, we're both really, um, we really believed what we believed and we really care about that. We believe in, and those things are often at odds and that doesn't feel good, but it's sort of like a thank goodness because, uh, what I want to relate it to is this idea that you have to have conflict and murders. Otherwise the curtain goes up and maybe somebody proposes to the other person and that person says yes, and then it's over, there's no conflict and the curtain goes down. And so there's the thought that if you want something to be sustainable, if you want, and I'm talking now in a performative way, if you want to sustain interests for the audience, there's gotta be conflict there for people to have a hook. So we lean into the conflict. Um, and since our work is usually a kind of lens into our, into our relationship as partners, um, we then lean into the inherent conflicts between each other, um, and allow them to be present in the work so that the work, yeah, it's a belief. I mean, it feels like a belief, like a value or making work to me is this idea of
Speaker 1 00:14:47 100%. Um, do you have anything you want to add, Jay?
Speaker 2 00:14:51 Um, I'm just listening to, I feel like conflict is also about diversity and, uh, it's about opposition. Uh, I think we're realizing right now in this moment that we can't continue to curate this weird streamline version of reality where there aren't, there's no diversity, right? Like where we, where we have the same value and the same way of expressing these values. It's not real it's
Speaker 1 00:15:31 And there's no opposition position. And we know because we're dancers, who've done pyramids before that you cannot lift up without also pushing down. You won't have a successful rotation if you don't do both. Um, this is what I'm inspired by right now is this idea. And I know it's very self-gratifying, but is this idea that dancers just might be the best people to deal with and lead in a time like this because we have understanding and the ability to think kind of physically and know the importance of something like opposition. No, the importance of something like spacing, for example. But I just, I, I would love to hear, um, a little bit more from you guys on what some other dancer or choreographer characteristics might be helpful right now to, to all, not just to dance types,
Speaker 2 00:16:43 Spatial awareness is the first thing that came to mind. Um, it's not just about avoiding, bumping into people on the street. It's about space. It's about an understanding of space, um, helps to leave rooms by other people, which is something that I'm very missing from the conversation in our way of life here in the last year, we created a lot of extremes and not so much space for people to exist and that this work. And I think that, that actually, I think we experienced that in the dance world was maybe we'll have a chance to kind of get into a little bit more, uh, later, but this idea of where you exist inside of the dance world, things sometimes not. I mean, sometimes for, for a lot of people, it's always feeling like there's, there's no intersection or, um, a blending of worlds and experiences.
Speaker 2 00:17:44 And I'm also thinking about blending of forms and blending of techniques. But, um, I'd like to first, before getting into that talk about also, I think dance has the ability to help us train an idea. I was just thinking about a rehearsal Jermaine and I had the other day where we were doing some partnering and I needed to know what somethings felt like for him in order to do my job for him to help. So I, he had me do it, do his role, so I could feel what it felt like. And then I knew better. It didn't change instantly, but I had a better ability to make a helpful choice for him as a partner. And that made me feel like what we're actually doing is training that thing we're trying to talk about right now, which is, this is how this feels for me. Can you hear me say that? Like, can you put that on, this is how this feels for me. And, and we do that sometimes without even knowing that that's unusual.
Speaker 2 00:18:54 And right now, since I've been teaching a lot online and, you know, theoretically everyone's alone in their kitchen, like I am teaching, right. And so I'm trying to still figure out how to teach this idea or promote this idea of empathy. And I think we can relate to ourselves in our own bodies, empathetically as well, and have that same process of like, what does that feel like for you knees? And then if I'm, if I'm thoughts during a sense of empathy in my own body, isn't it then? Or couldn't it then be easier to be empathetic with the wider world.
Speaker 0 00:19:33 Okay. Pause for the cause and let that sink in for a second. All right. In episode three, with Chloe Arnold, we talked about how dance lessons are life lessons. We talked about all the different ways that dance has prepared us for life, and we dug pretty deep. Um, I highly suggest you go back and check that out if you haven't already, or maybe even revisit that one, if it's been awhile, but even in all of that discussion with Chloe, it had never dawned on me that perhaps the most important and powerful and dare I say essential human quality empathy can be practiced physically through dance. This was a massive aha moment for me. I, I dance as a swing on my most recent world tour. And, uh, for those of you that don't know a swing is somebody that knows and must be able to dance anyone in the shows track, um, attract just means their part, I guess.
Speaker 0 00:20:46 So for show, for the man of the woods tour, I learned all of the ladies and even took it upon myself to learn my male counterpart dancers tracks. Um, and it was my job to jump in for anybody in the event that they needed me to fill in. And man, wow. If it is recommended to walk a mile in somebody else's shoes, I highly recommend that you try dancing in them. I gained a tremendous understanding and appreciation for my fellow dancers by learning their show, by dancing in their shoes. I did wear my own shoes, but that's neither here nor there. I think that perhaps the best part of what I'm learning from this conversation and from what Spencer is saying is that learning and appreciating can happen for me in me, like having empathy for parts of myself. Wow. Just whoa. Okay. I had to jump out and highlight that and sort of plant a seed. So that next time you find yourself in conflict with yourself or with someone else, you might find an opportunity to practice empathy. Okay. That's it let's jump back in.
Speaker 2 00:22:07 Yes. I can still connect and you know, physically partner with this person that doesn't weigh the same as I do that has a different shape than I do that. That comes from a different understanding of dance, but we can meet, do we figure it out? I mean, that's what happens. It happens again all the time. And just thinking about how many times, whether it's an company or a shoot, you meet these people may never see again, but you have yes, yes. You get mommy along the way. It's not great. It's not always whatever perfect supposed to mean, but I think that's awesome.
Speaker 1 00:23:06 Uh, those are excellent points that I really hadn't considered the concept of actually sharing weight and feeling feelings of, you know, trading roles. Like we do that in dance. I will dance your role. I will try to be your track. Um, I'll try to lift you the way that you lift me and that lift, like I can't think of a, of a better way to practice empathy. Um, but also this idea that we are basically constantly, uh, building and then breaking down and then rebuilding new teams with different objectives. And that is such an important skill to have. I think dancers are really, really good at being quick to volunteer quick, to make changes quick, to make friends. And part of that is the nature of how quickly our world and our creative processes work, especially here in LA. There certainly aren't, we, we don't have the luxury of long rehearsal processes for most projects. And I mean, no rehearsal process now. No in-person rehearsal process now. So yeah, we we've gotten very good at doing certain things. Um, what are we not good at?
Speaker 2 00:24:30 Well, we're not always good at recognizing our individual to the mess. I, I feel like I've, uh, I've been a performer in a contemporary concert dance company and I've been in these moments with the company where we're complaining and we're like, this is happening and this is happening. This company sucks. We, everybody gets onto this company sucks training and it's like, we're the company, you know? I mean, yes, there is an administrative body that is governing the situation, but also we actually have a lot more say on the dynamics of how things and there's something in structure. There's something in the way, a lot of things organize that causes us to get that. I mean, every company that I've ever been a part of with the exception of maybe one has had like really Rocky. And again, that's not a dig it's layered, right? I think that's something that happens equals there's many different aspects to running. And then of course the dances field of runs of that, but then we can get caught in just complaining about it and just suffering. And that becomes our story. Like I'm just suffering this situation and this is how it has well as me, I'm a dancer. And then at some point you have to realize other things that I can do. And other ways that I find to this situation that will change me. Usually if I cheat myself that is reflected in the person next to me. And then personally to them,
Speaker 1 00:26:09 I would like to talk a little bit more about voice specifically. You've used it in your work in a way that I think is very attractive, but I know that for a lot of dancers using our voice, like our actual vocal chords is terrifying, uh, speak for myself as for one. Um, could you guys share maybe a story of, of being asked to use your voice or maybe why you, why you love to use voice?
Speaker 2 00:26:42 Yeah, I'd love talk about that. I, I think a bit of context is helpful and to know that I grew up, um, like equal parts. I was training at a dance studio, uh, after school, but in school I was, I was training in theater. I was a drama kid and I was really, really torn between these two worlds. And I felt a lot of anger over that, of like this having to make a choice. And I ultimately chose dance because I love it. It wasn't like, um, fashion or anything. I, I knew dance in my mind and I didn't know theater in my mind, so I followed it, but I definitely felt like I've made a choice and closed the pathway, closed some kind of world in myself. And it wasn't until I moved to Europe and I was working on a creation with the choreographer at Netherlands dance theater.
Speaker 2 00:27:43 And I was, I was asked to use my voice and I was sort of thinking, oh, I know that that's that person from high school, like who knows, I use their voice and who loves to speak and has this sense of theater and drama. And it was like inviting a part of myself to the party who hadn't got to be at the party for like 10 years. And from that point on, that was it. I was, I was like, if I'm not getting to explore all of me, I'm just not sure if I'm not interested. And sometimes it feels right to make the choice to just dance. But there's a difference between saying you can only dance. And right now you're just dancing versus like, just knowing that it's always, like, I always have the ability to use my voice if that's the right choice for this particular communication or to, I don't know, sing or make a dress or dance, or like get behind this camera and operate this projector or whatever, like whatever the moment calls for, I want to feel like I'm allowed and have permission to, to deliver that. And that feels like, that feels like pursuit of, of me to me. That's,
Speaker 1 00:29:08 That's awesome. I love the, the 360 degree approach to making. Um, I also love the concept of giving permission to use voice. And when you set that, I realized that, um, I would say like fully 50% of my professional work is me lip-syncing to something, but you, you cannot be lip sinking because it looks like, you know, your, your neck, your muscles aren't working, you can sell somebody lip sinking. So even on the projects where I'm, lip-syncing, they ask you to sing out. And as I said, so to me, that's permission, right? You're playing a track at volume. That's not my voice. They, they, they, they won't hear my voice. Maybe. I don't know. They probably have a microphone hidden somewhere, but to me, that's permission to sing out. And I, I wonder if that metaphor kind of breaks the part of this conversation. That's important to me, which is it being your voice, but, um, Jermaine specifically, I'm curious what you'd have to say about this, because now that I'm talking about lip sinking, I'm remembering that maybe my favorite performance of yours is kid pivots, a B Trophon height, your, your lip sinking, right?
Speaker 1 00:30:22 Is that your voice? Are you, are you in game
Speaker 2 00:30:25 I'm lip sinking? You never hear my voice in shell. That's embodiment
Speaker 1 00:30:30 Embodiment. You could not tell me that's not your voice. Okay. So just straight up curiosity, what was your approach to making somebody's voice? That's not your voice look like your voice.
Speaker 2 00:30:47 That is a good question. It was, it was a few different things. It's the physicality of just the steps and the way that, uh, you know, with pistol, we cited, my character would, would move that movement, directed the character. That character tells me how I need to. Then the other level of that layer of that was listening to the track and getting familiar with the rhythm and the cadence and the timing of how Jonathan speaking and when they were reading him and there wasn't breathing. And every year that we perform the show, we peel back another layer of the audio. I think when we first did it, we were not in the place where we could hear every breath or example that was in the audio track. And then when we came back to do it, we remounted it. We were like, he's been here. Like I hear it differently now. So then the second year was really all about trying to embody now. All right. And then the third year was like the breath and the little crackles of, you know, saliva, like when he's opening and closing, we've done that also with reviser
Speaker 1 00:32:04 Jermaine. It's so good. It's one of my favorite things to watch. Um, I'm not sure if mark KTV is still doing a 30 days free thing. Um, and his B Trevor, night's still up,
Speaker 2 00:32:17 But Charleston height is up and revise it or is now there as well.
Speaker 1 00:32:20 We'll be linking to that in the show notes, please. You guys, this is mandatory viewing. Um, okay, cool. Moving right along. Um, you guys both went to Julliard. You're both teachers you teach at the college level. And I know I have a lot of listeners out there who dream of attending prestigious schools like that and of having careers like yours. Um, what would you tell them that you wish somebody had told you when you embarked on your journey of higher education?
Speaker 2 00:32:51 Yeah. Something boots in mind for me instantly. And I remember, um, I think it's so, so important and so wonderful and so necessary to have goals. But what I remember is that I had tunnel vision with my goals when, especially going into college and through college, uh, into, into like the professional world. So my goals, um, confused me at times, uh, because they, what they did is they said, this is important for your goals. This isn't your role. And so there was a bit of, I love school and I love to learn even as, um, there's a little bit of like, I'll need this. I won't be in this type of thing for the goals that I, you know, what I wish someone had told me is what I'm experiencing now and continue to experience is that you don't know what your goals are going to be after you get a taste of maybe the goal that you're interested in, the goals might change, they're likely to change. And aren't you, or maybe you will wish that you had absorbed a little bit more deeply. And then you did, when it was offered to you, I've found myself often wishing that I had, um, taken better notes or paid more attention in a particular course, because I feel like I need it now. Uh, you know, 10 plus years later. And I just didn't know that at the time. So that thought of, of hoarding information with accepting the idea that you don't know what you're going to be interested in.
Speaker 1 00:34:43 Um, will you guys play a game with me really quick? Okay. So it's, um, full disclosure. It's not actually a game, it's an exercise, but we're going to call it a game because that's more fun. So I have started, um, categorizing my goals now in tears, I do these three tiers. My first tier of goals is the goals I could accomplish right now. If literally, if I just did it, like the action is the missing part, not the resources or the, um, the ideas themselves, but like right now I could accomplish this. Um, tier two is with a little bit more support, whether it's in manpower or finance or time or whatever, with a little more support I could accomplish this. And then tier three is rip the lid off. No ceiling nobody ever would say, no, you will not hear the word. No. What? Like that's tier three, no rules, no limits at all. So I would love to hear from you guys, three tiers of goals,
Speaker 2 00:35:48 You know, I'm already, I'm already going to do the game, not how the game is supposed to be played, break the rules. I'm a man it's really, really, really layers. I want the depth. I think I have learned from a very young age, not to set goals. Um, in my life, it hasn't actually been a negative, but it may be related to being a black mom because I grew up feeling sometimes like she was not supported in the way she needed to really get to that goal or just feeling like I just, I, I, I watched my mom, like that was beautiful. And I feel like I learned from that, like, and also just be about adapt and that isn't a lab or imagination, imagination. Um, well, there are many ways to choose, you know, how to organize it. And I, I don't really set goals. Um, I know that sounds weird, but I do, I do stuff. I do stuff. And then I pay attention to how that feels and where it's leading me there. I feel led to the next thing. And that's how my whole dance career has been. I never decided I want to go study at a conservative school. I just, I decided I liked dancing. So then I continued, I didn't even want to dance. My mother forced me to go there. Then I realized that like slash and then someone was like, you should audition.
Speaker 2 00:38:03 But I went because I trusted that person's opinion while I was actually, I had a teacher that was like, you should look into this place. And, you know, listening to the voices didn't mean that I only listened to what people told me sometimes they were exactly right. So I, with them to say, to help me understand what I was feeling so that I can make my own choice. It continues to be that way. And the older I get, I feel like it's really just about deciding to do stuff. Um, for me personally, I think people should set goals if that is how they need punchy. Um, and it's a plan ahead, but that just hasn't really been a part of my spirit as a person. It gets me into trouble in different ways because of the world that we, that we live in. But it also provides me a lot by not feeling, um, I don't feel precious about the trajectory of my life
Speaker 1 00:39:23 Going to go into what you mean when you say gets you in trouble.
Speaker 2 00:39:29 Yes. I mean, in the, in the kind of like little micro versions of that, it's like sometimes I don't plan far enough ahead so that I can, so then I'm late, you know, and that's, that's like a little, little tiny version of that. Um, I think it gets me in trouble sometimes because then with, and the interactions with other people, sometimes there are expectations that are not met and yes, because I think the way that I do, I understand that. And I, I see sometimes what that means for certain people in certain circumstances. But I also feel like I am not always responsible for delivering that expectation
Speaker 0 00:40:25 Full stop. Wow. Okay. In hearing Jermaine's point of view about setting goals, I experienced the moment that I've felt quite a bit lately, the shameful moment that many of my listeners out there maybe feeling lately as well. And that is the moment where your privilege is revealed to you in a place that you hadn't noticed that before I truly relish the goal setting practice, I called it a game. It literally is fun to me because my goal setting practice doesn't get me in trouble. It gets me my desired results. And what I learned from Jermaine is that the accomplishment of my goals is absolutely not entirely attributable to the goal setting practice itself. I am a white able-bodied heterosexual woman who grew up in a middle-class suburban home with two parents who, although divorced, both loved and supported me tremendously. And my life experience has taught me that dreaming big, mostly works.
Speaker 0 00:41:49 Someone else's experience might teach them that dreaming big, mostly hurts. I know that now, and that doesn't mean that setting goals is bad. And that doesn't mean that I am bad for setting goals. It means that setting goals is not a default setting. I do think it's important to mention that the thing that excited me and still excites me most about setting goals is that, especially in that third kind of no ceilings, impossible tier something is only impossible until it's possible. And I find tremendous inspiration and power in that. All right, let's jump back in and hear what Jermaine, the man who seemingly defies gravity and every other law of physics in his dancing makes of doing the impossible buckle up
Speaker 2 00:42:52 For me. I respond to what is it? Is it possible? Like, what is impossible? It's not in the constructs for us to relate to, but it's not really a thing. And I say that because like, you know, often when I improvise, I use paths and I talk about, I've never, never deciding. Now I'm going to do something that is like, those things happen because I'm doing something that is really similar to me in the breakdown of all of the things that I am moving my shoulder to the right, and at the same time sliding to the left. And if I do that and I involve my hip and my, I have miraculous, you made it around that. I lived that experience with my life and I'm never really trying to do something impossible.
Speaker 1 00:44:06 That is very important to me on the subject of effort. If we could circle back to effort, you look effortless when you dance, but it's not because what you're doing is easy is because you're focusing your efforts into very specific, simple places or simple tasks that is fascinating.
Speaker 2 00:44:29 And I'd like to jump in on that as soon as he gets to watch, um, his sense of validation is really insightful himself. It's not, it's not bound to external sources and the small interjection I had to work on that because for so much of my younger life, I felt really bound to what I thought were people's expectations of me. And then it hurt. I hurt myself. No one did that to me. I did that to myself, fulfilling that expectation for everyone else. I caused myself hurt and suppression and guilt for things that I shouldn't feel guilty for. And I don't know, I think at some late twenties, I really started to come to terms with that. And it's what was the shift?
Speaker 2 00:45:24 I think, I think it was it's, it was physical and emotional. Um, I mean, they're the same thing, but you know, it was this meek on a path of diving deeper in my artistry, which pushed me to dive deeper into my person. And what, what am I expressing? What am I living with mentoring? Um, it was me coming to terms really for real in, with my sexuality and realizing how much of that, uh, was weighing on me in ways that I didn't know that it was weighing on me. And through that realizing I have all of these boxes that I'm trying to fulfill for other people that I care about, people that care about me, people that I need in my life. And so not only do I have the boxes, but then I also have here the boxes and what will they do if I don't fulfill this class.
Speaker 2 00:46:26 Um, and I'm trying to make it a long story short, I saw therapists and one was a granial staple therapist in stock, a shout out to banks, my superhero wizard, Swedish name, the it's very confronting to see someone that you've never met before and have them just read you like a book in one sitting. And, and to realize that they can do that because they've learned the skill of being sensitive. So he could feel these things in my body. You could feel them through the tissue physically, but he could also feel them energetically emotionally. And if I'm walking around with that all the time, that's not going to be cute down the line. So then, Hey, Hey, maybe there was a goal that was like my one goal, you know, it's that to fix myself, like change my relationships with these expectations. He would, he would say to me like, wow, you put so much pressure on yourself. Why do you do that? And I'd be like, what, why are you saying that from holding my ankles? I don't understand. And it wasn't just him, myself, a few more craniosacral therapist over the years and had very similar experiences, one with a person in London, with a person. And every time it was very consistent, the things that they had to say to me very spot on, and these are people that I never met before in my life. And it was the last time in Hawaii where I was like, okay, do you be you your life Jewish that's the people will accept. And if they don't, they don't.
Speaker 1 00:48:24 And that has to apply to everyone. Uh, yes, those, those boxes checked make sense. And I, I remember coming up in dance, I actually wonder, I wonder if there's a way to train dancers, um, that doesn't perpetuate external validation, right. Is there a way of teaching anything that puts the authority in the hands of the students instead of any authority figure? I mean, Dan specifically, I mean, I remember a very literal stick that was either, you know, it was slamming into the ground, counting the music, or it was slapping me on the back of the knee or my belly if, if I was doing something wrong. So, and you look to that person for, did I do it right? Am I enough? And that started for me when I was three and I, I didn't go to college for dance, but I would imagine an institution like Julliard it's that like dialed up, you're doing that hours and hours a day for years on years on years. I don't know how to remove that portion of, of our training process.
Speaker 2 00:49:41 This is something that's really on my mind. Um, and I'm, I know I'm not alone in that, but, um, this idea of, especially as someone who teaches ballet primarily, uh, how to approach teaching ballet in a more inclusive way. And, um, you know, my, all of the readings I've been doing lately, um, the first thing that seems important is that you got to name the problem and not pretend like it isn't there. So we have to name, name the idea that ballet is rooted in whiteness and name the idea that it is somehow, um, has been self-described as this pedestal, um, this pillar of dance
Speaker 1 00:50:32 That's essential to all other dances somehow.
Speaker 2 00:50:35 Yeah. Yeah. Well, there's that, that thing that I'm sure we've all heard is like, if you know ballet, you can do everything or ballet is the basis of all forms. And that is, um, it's a lot, that's not, not a true statement. It's true for a particular path, which is a particular path. That's not the path. So this, I think first and foremost, we have to establish that ballet is a form of dance, not the form of dance. And then how do you approach learning it, honoring it without letting, without, um, allowing it, and I mean, this both as a teacher teaching it, but also as a student taking it, how do you, how do you make sure that you're honoring it without letting it tell you that it knows something about you as a dancer, because many of us have this relationship with ballet as it being a standard of dance, then the aesthetics of ballet become a standard that I know my, my body doesn't always accomplish.
Speaker 2 00:51:43 Um, my feet don't do the thing that they're supposed to do for ballet, my rotation, my range of motion, all of those things. I don't, I don't check those boxes, but I can still honor that work and ballet and approach it, honoring my values about capital D dance, not ballet as dance, if that makes any kind of sense. But even that is, it's a deformation of, because it was never intended for people to rotate their feet away from each other, 180 degree foot above your head to the o'clock. That was never the intention we applied to that all of that came later left the valley and many other dance forms, genres, right? So even that thing that we're, we're fighting up against that comes from people, it comes from a particular person or a particular desire. And now we're all trying to fit into that fantasy. We're missing, we're missing the root. We didn't rotate the legs in some degree of fashion because legs do that. Everyone can through the arms in and out in general, because times do that. So it's not about, well, your body does something. My body is everyone's bodies to exactly what they need to do.
Speaker 2 00:53:21 I like to talk about turnout and experience as opposed a shade. Like it's not a result. It's something that you're actively doing. And when we make things a movement, I think we allow them to be fluid as opposed to the static idea of arrival and position and aesthetic and shape. I think we get bogged down in ballet by that a lot, like moving from pose to pose. Like you heard me talk about today, how do I mean, let's emphasize the move moving from post-close instead of moving from pose. Oh, that's right. Like, what are you emphasizing? I think it's really important to stay curious for more information and to assume that there, you know, then that there, like there is that, you know, always a sound that there's more out there. However, you do know what your values are as a dancer and you know what your values are from an early age and you do those values and you go into there not, um, like musicality coordination, organization, relationship to space, relationship to time, those things exist across dance. They're not, they don't belong to any particular technique. So whatever you love about those things find that in whatever form you're working on, and then you're working inclusively for yours in your own body.
Speaker 1 00:54:48 Well, I think Spencer, the other thing that you did in class today that I thought was very inclusive was, um, you talked about energetic ideas, opposed to physical explanations, physical ideas, or physical pictures of what is right and what is wrong. Um, it was very much about energetic ideas and the, the one that stuck with me and that I'll be hearing in my head as I turn out. And as I lift, and as I oppose is this idea of forever. You said, turn out forever, open your back forever, a route, your legs forever. And it became like, this makes me emotional because it's now timeless, which is something that kind of breaks my heart about dance, especially live dance, is that it only truly exists in that moment, even if it's captured on film, the actual moment of it, God, I just wish that it could last forever. But when you explained those shapes those poses, if you will, as becoming eternal, it was an emotional experience. And, and that is inclusive.
Speaker 2 00:55:59 I thank you for, for that observation. And I, I totally, I mean, speaking about bringing information from other forms and other experiences into right now, we're talking about ballet. So into this particular farm, that information I've learned and developed from, from learning and developing my relationship with Jermaine, uh, this idea of endless directionality and opposing and opposing energies in the body, that's something that I was first introduced to by him. And it's something that we really privileged in the work that we make together and in our, in our improv practice and then all of that stuff. So then again, the thought is that it doesn't have to just belong to that practice like that improv phase or that creative space with Jermaine, but I can actually invite it with me into my ballet practice or any other practice. And I just think, I just think that that matters.
Speaker 1 00:56:58 That does matter. Is it possible? You guys new idea, auditioning it on you now, is it possible that improvisation is the foundation of all styles because everybody's body is their own. And if the body is the tool of dance, then a degree of mastery of your own body and a communication of your own body in the moment from moment to moment is, is essential.
Speaker 2 00:57:28 I'll tell you what I, my experience with improvisation is that I really didn't like it because no one was telling me what to do. And I didn't know how to be good at that. I didn't like it until post my time at Netherlands dance theater. So I'm like a grownup person running around the dance world,
Speaker 1 00:57:48 Not loving improvisation
Speaker 2 00:57:51 And not meaning improvisation into my world until I joined a company that is rooted in improvisation, the Forsythe company. And that was a real hard awakening to have somebody say to me, well, how do you want to do it? Which is essentially what that proposition was. You're going to improvise in this show. So you're demonstrating what a youth essentially. And I was like, I don't know what, what should I think is how I answered that. I didn't know how to answer that. And I was 20, something like that at the time. And I just felt like, wow, this is, this is really late in the game to not even have a clue what my, how I want to move, how, what are my instincts? What are my values? And it was those two years of working there that, and just being immersed in improvisation that I really learned, what do I care about? What are my values? What are my impulses? Uh, and that work, that exploration has just fully permeated everything. I mean, it's, it's like, um, like a good kind of infection where it's, it's just, I find it everywhere now. I didn't know that person before. I didn't know the person that knew what, uh, what they wanted and dance and knew how to make choices in. I only the person that knew how to be told what to do. Right.
Speaker 1 00:59:25 I think it is a risk, um, to be always told what to do and told what to think and not taught how to think dance taught me a lot. You guys dance taught me a lot. And some things that you might not expect, like how to manage my time or how to, uh, work in a group, how to resolve some conflicts. Right. Um, but it did not teach me how to think. And it certainly didn't give me confidence in my thoughts if I ever had, if I ever had any confidence at all, it was because somebody told me that it was good, but I rarely had confidence in my thoughts.
Speaker 2 01:00:05 Right. And I feel like we're touching on something that, especially in this moment, uh, is important to be thinking about is that, you know, we're speaking a lot about dance, like Western civilization culture. I'm speaking about concert, dance culture, um, fine arts, the quotation marks education. Why are those fine with talking about like, but I didn't know, like someone taught me how to dance. Well, somebody taught you these particular forms, but again, everyone knows how to dance because they have a body like everyone dances it's the beginning. And before somebody decided to hold a class, you know, like people were teaching and learning from each other as a way of communicating as a way of expressing as a way of, you know, keeping track of their stories and their history and all those things. So it's very important to remember, you're really affected by like the forming and
Speaker 1 01:01:30 Everybody dance. I, I know this because I know babies that wiggle in their car seats when music comes on and nobody said do that. And nobody said, put your shoulders down.
Speaker 2 01:01:46 I just think it's also worth noting that the way that Jermaine was just talking about that need to codify is also like this idea about the needs to define in terms of goal setting, like what he was speaking about before this idea to just let it be experienced is, is the information you need in order to know how to engage with it. Um, yeah. What is, what is this need to define it, to like set it in concrete to make a statue out of it. Um, and is that what we have to do to it in order to relate to it?
Speaker 1 01:02:29 Or is that what we need to do to it in order to remember it like 400 years from now, if my generations pass down, want to find out what I was doing at this time, how would they find it? You know, how, how would I know the important players of this thing, if this thing didn't have a name, um, in this, in this kind of information age where you have to know what you want to search for in order to find it, I mean, that's, to me that's maybe the only, well, certainly the best way that I can, the best reason I can think of giving things a category or a name is simply so that they can be recorded and found later. Um, but yes, I've seen that genre fication as being so divisive and germane. You mentioned earlier, like you mentioned that the dance world is very separate and it's weird to me that for as small as it is, there is so much distance between the groups. It is so sectioned
Speaker 2 01:03:37 Because there's so much hierarchy and the structure of it that is about creating exclusivity and elitist. And ultimately I think we all don't respond to that very well. I mean, at the top of it is, is whiteness and privilege. And I think you you've touched on your right away with that idea of like, who decided what was fine, because that's, that's why I more time in ballet in college programs and other forms, dance, because things were defined and those things were defined by white people.
Speaker 1 01:04:24 Yeah. That's heartbreaking to think how much is being left out. Um, I think about when you use the word fine in relationship to fine art, I think about fine China and that, that, and how rarely it gets used and dance is so useful. It might be weird coming from somebody who operates primarily in the commercial space, but dance is useful. It has function connective, um, expressive, and to think of how much dance isn't getting used, because it's not considered fine. Like how many hip hop programs are there on the university level, straight styles, freestyles. There's a huge problem there.
Speaker 2 01:05:20 I mean, there's also a problem there though, because the idea is like, you need to access information, this place assessable, and that also isn't true. You can be in a nominal credible artists without having those university. Certainly not ideal. Like I have to go to this place and the next level teachers that I teach in the universities, they taught themselves.
Speaker 1 01:06:02 Right? You have, you have proof that it isn't essential yet, yet the high price point would make you believe that it is simply because it's that expensive. It must be important.
Speaker 2 01:06:16 You know, we have to remember that even though we see that and it's super shiny and impressive, that is not the end and all that is not the only definition of success. It's like, everyone does not need to be Beyonce and everyone won't be Beyonce. You know, we're saying, look at me and say, listen to how she did it as a way to inspire people. But the flip side of that is like, there is, and if you don't become her, that's also, okay, you can do something else. You can still make music on a different level for a different person that can be successful.
Speaker 1 01:07:01 What is success to you? German?
Speaker 2 01:07:04 I think success is living into, I was going to say with your purpose, but I don't want that to sound too esoteric and like religious it's living with intuition and letting that also cultivate how you interact with,
Speaker 1 01:07:29 I spend some, I'm curious what you'd say.
Speaker 2 01:07:32 Yeah. I think especially lately I'm, I'm feeling similar to Jermaine. Um, I can recognize different times in my life when I felt feelings of success and what it feels like to me is purposeful ness. Um, happiness says in there, and I think that that has come in my life when I felt like I'm really listening to what I actually want to do, as opposed to what I feel like I should do and have felt like a good, um, balanced of those moments. What I've struggled with in the past is worry about what I should, and I guess they never spoke about the goal setting idea, my relationship to goal setting. Sometimes it's complicated for that same idea of creating tunnel vision, like talked about early on this thought about the goal, kind of taking over my sense of self or, or being present with what's actually happening. And what I I'm starting to understand it now is to be just a little bit big learning edges so that things can transform when I try to specify the goal sometimes pursuit of my happiness, not so honest. So to me to circle back success feels like really being honest with myself about what I'm actually looking for, as opposed to what I expect myself to be.
Speaker 1 01:09:17 I cannot thank you enough. You've blown my mind several different points during this conversation. I'm not shocked by that because this is what you do. I love you. Thank you so much. No
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