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OPEN TRANSCRIPT

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just the theft of black art for
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um acceptable palatable white
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consumption and then how that's the root
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that's literally the root of pop culture
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if you believe we can change the
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narrative if you believe we can change
00:14
our communities
00:15
if you believe we can change the
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outcomes then we can change the world
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i'm rob richardson welcome to disruption
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now
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welcome to disruption now i'm your host
00:25
and moderator rob richardson
00:27
with me is ancienta mcdaniel with blue
00:30
13 dance company it's a pleasure to have
00:31
her on
00:32
if i can kind of summarize what she does
00:35
she is disrupting the common narratives
00:37
about what people think it is to have
00:39
to have american dance from a cultural
00:42
kind of contemporary flair she does it
00:43
all
00:44
mixing hip hop bollywood showing people
00:46
what real art
00:47
and what what what contemporary what
00:49
dance can be and should be it is not a
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narrow definition but it's much broader
00:53
than that because
00:54
americans aren't just white just so we
00:56
know some people might think that but
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we're a lot of
00:59
we're a lot of cultures and and you mix
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a lot of them within dance so
01:03
achienta it's great to have you on
01:05
thanks for having me so excited to be
01:07
here
01:08
so you're in l.a right now right i'm in
01:10
l.a in a cavernous
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uh empty dance studio during covet oh
01:15
wow
01:15
yes so this has been so
01:18
typically during this time you usually
01:20
have events that's what you use
01:22
in-person events where your thing so
01:24
that's
01:24
certainly been disrupted yeah especially
01:26
with dance i mean in person classes
01:29
live public performances in theaters
01:32
even outdoor all of it's been
01:33
sort of we've had to shift the way we do
01:37
things
01:37
um so it's been a challenge but it's an
01:40
interesting time for us to
01:41
kind of create work and create dance and
01:43
share it
01:44
in different ways now so yeah i always
01:47
like to explore how people got down
01:49
their path and if you saw this path for
01:51
yourself so
01:52
i would like to ask what did you want to
01:54
be growing up and what do you want to be
01:56
now
01:56
right yeah that's a good question i
01:58
always wanted dance i mean
02:01
i'm i'm the daughter of immigrants and
02:04
you probably know this and we've talked
02:05
about this at length um
02:08
it's a different kind of pressure you
02:10
know to um
02:12
to sort of satisfy and and be be both
02:15
things so growing up
02:16
in i was born in new york i grew up in
02:18
cleveland um
02:19
predominantly white super privileged uh
02:23
upbringing but predominantly white so
02:25
having that
02:26
sort of um not being too americanized
02:30
yeah yes yeah that a lot of immigrant
02:32
children here constantly
02:34
and especially all of my indian friends
02:36
we can all say the same thing
02:37
um not becoming too americanized not
02:39
dating getting straight
02:41
a's but also um my family was a little
02:45
bit different
02:45
in one way that i could compare maybe to
02:47
my my counterparts that i grew up with
02:50
that were in the indian community
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um which is that they really wanted us
02:54
to experience art
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and in all in many facets so whether it
02:59
was
02:59
classical indian music that my
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grandfather was passionate about and i
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grew up in a very traditional indian
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household with
03:04
we lived with my grandparents growing up
03:06
also so i had like two sets of parents
03:08
right so my brother sister and i were
03:10
thrown into every activity
03:12
again like you know immigrants coming to
03:15
america trying to
03:16
have a life that's better for their
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children
03:20
i would just say this very quickly while
03:21
you get into that because uh
03:23
without being inappropriate i would say
03:24
if i had to think about the
03:26
stereotypical
03:28
uh framing and when someone thinks of
03:31
immigrants it's not just indian
03:33
immigrants in general that come here the
03:35
ethiopians wherever west african doesn't
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matter
03:38
folks come here they usually tell them
03:41
to stay focused
03:42
do math and engineering and if you don't
03:45
you know
03:46
you're going to be disappointed from the
03:47
family obviously it's not i'm
03:48
exaggerating but like that's kind of
03:50
that you're not exaggerating that
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so that wasn't the case so there was
03:56
that pressure but they
03:58
interesting that they what what do you
03:59
know what inspired them to
04:01
to give you that freedom because that's
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i think it's good
04:05
but it's often not something people
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think of they think of
04:08
unfortunately when people think of arts
04:10
uh they don't understand
04:12
that the creative nature behind art is
04:14
also entrepreneurial can also
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wake up a lot of things in the mind when
04:18
you think about art
04:19
uh you can think about how you design
04:21
something from a technical point of view
04:23
if you don't have
04:24
that artistic point of view to really
04:26
help inform the experienced people but
04:28
people see
04:28
art i think in a very narrow myopic
04:33
scope in terms of what it is they think
04:34
you're just going to go off and just
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paint something and be a starving artist
04:37
on the street
04:38
how did your how did your how did your
04:39
folks kind of have a broader view of
04:41
that and
04:42
i mean how are they informed that that
04:43
this is something that can
04:45
play a larger role and it's very
04:46
important yeah that's a great question
04:47
um again it was very rare just compared
04:50
to other friends that i grew up with
04:52
um my father is a neurosurgeon but he's
04:54
also an incredible artist
04:56
like a painting artist he does oils and
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acrylics and he would make these massive
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canvases constantly filling them with
05:02
beautiful images growing up
05:03
and then i also my grandfather who used
05:06
to be an air force pilot
05:08
in india in world war ii was passionate
05:11
about music so there was all these
05:12
crazy kind of seemingly opposite
05:14
binaries that existed
05:16
you know that we normally are like oh a
05:17
neurosurgeon he's indian it makes sense
05:19
he's a doctor
05:20
but also is this incredible artist and
05:22
also is like an incredible chef
05:24
right right and grandfather same thing
05:26
military
05:28
i'm very strict but then and very like
05:30
patriarchal kind of
05:31
traditional colonized indian upbringing
05:34
right
05:35
but then loved had a huge passion for
05:38
all music so we would hear constantly
05:40
classical indian music
05:42
and not just glasgow uh and tchaikovsky
05:44
like western classical all
05:46
beautiful music piping out of his room
05:48
at all hours and then with his
05:49
headphones on while my grandmother slept
05:50
this was just part of upbringing
05:52
so that was already kind of different
05:53
than i think other um
05:55
other friends um that were growing up
05:57
and then
05:59
there's the what all good parents want
06:01
to do is to have their children
06:02
be afforded opportunities that they
06:04
didn't have so that's my parents that's
06:06
a normal thing
06:07
so they didn't grow up with dance
06:08
classes horseback riding and all that
06:09
stuff it was very focused you do this
06:11
you go to college and that's it you
06:12
graduate and you're done
06:14
um your parents were first generation
06:16
though yeah
06:17
right okay yeah so then um
06:21
so then my mom was throwing us into
06:22
every possible thing so get straight a's
06:25
but then after school you're going to go
06:27
to enrichment classes you're going to do
06:29
ice skating you're doing tennis you're
06:30
doing sports not happening i'm not the
06:33
indian tennis player like
06:35
everyone else but i think that's so
06:37
important to expose
06:39
your kids and yourself people people say
06:42
well i don't know what i want to do it's
06:43
because well you need to explore and do
06:45
more things
06:46
i think everybody has some uh essential
06:49
passion a passion or a reason for being
06:51
on this earth
06:52
and not getting exposed to that i think
06:54
is one of the biggest
06:55
missed opportunities for anybody if you
06:58
don't if you don't
06:59
get a chance to really be aligned with
07:00
your purpose yeah absolutely it's tragic
07:02
like if you
07:04
if if i have friends that i'm i joke
07:06
with them
07:07
um he's like my little brother my little
07:09
brother's best friend
07:10
he's a wonderful hand surgeon right he
07:11
lives in columbus
07:13
but i'm always like what a waste you're
07:15
such a dancer
07:18
so just to say like to not let your
07:21
children kind of explore
07:22
and it can be all caught up with um oh
07:25
you have a boy and you think dance is
07:27
for girl
07:28
you know it can be so many different
07:29
reasons why or um
07:31
like well he at the university i teach
07:32
at usc a lot of students will come to a
07:34
lot of south asian students
07:36
or or or east asian students will come
07:38
to me and say
07:39
i wanted to take dance classes or dance
07:42
minor but my parents said i had to focus
07:43
on school
07:44
right so like that you cannot again like
07:47
you put to your point rob that exists in
07:48
a vacuum and you there's no
07:50
no so i'm curious to how do you
07:54
help navigate someone through that
07:56
because i'm sure that that's not just
07:57
the case with
07:58
immigrants with india it's the case with
07:59
a lot of people who have very stern
08:02
kind of strict parents that say i expect
08:05
you to do this
08:06
you need to go to college for four years
08:09
major in engineering
08:11
or whatever and if you don't i'm going
08:13
to be severely disappointed in you
08:14
how how do you navigate telling and
08:17
empowering people
08:19
because we talk about the south the
08:21
south india east
08:22
east asian community because you have
08:23
some experience there knowing
08:26
the narratives that and the constructs
08:28
that are passed down
08:29
how do you help them deprogram through
08:32
that process take me through a student
08:33
that count that
08:34
came up to you that i'm sure this has
08:35
happened to you yeah how do you advise
08:38
them through
08:38
navigating this world when they've been
08:41
told by the parents this is the only way
08:43
yeah so that's the tough part is to try
08:46
to find out the way to satisfy and it
08:48
really depends
08:50
on like what their kind of cultural
08:52
comfort and background is so it depends
08:54
what i'm dealing with if i'm dealing
08:55
with
08:56
a high school student who's quietly
08:59
telling me don't tell my parents this
09:01
i really wanna i don't know what to do
09:03
and i have to be quiet about it
09:04
i have to major in computer science but
09:07
what do you suggest
09:08
i do then i have to be like well we have
09:09
to you've been treated delicately but
09:11
you're an adult
09:12
so even just empowering them as far as
09:13
like you're an adult like i get it
09:15
but when mom and dad hold the purse
09:17
strings and you have been let's say
09:19
disallowed
09:20
i'm talking about like let's talk about
09:21
like a very privileged perspective let
09:23
me talk about a
09:24
person first who wasn't allowed to
09:27
have a job everything had to do with mom
09:29
and dad paying the bills right
09:32
there was never really the threat of
09:33
will disown you but it was implied yeah
09:36
yeah so we'll take away your money that
09:39
duty
09:39
right and the duty and the expectation
09:41
that's so ingrained in all of us
09:43
is there um you better do better i moved
09:45
us here
09:46
i made all these sacrifices i left my
09:48
entire family behind my support system
09:50
and now you better do well make me proud
09:53
pay me back so there's a lot of love
09:55
there so that's the thing to grapple
09:57
with i'm like well
09:58
you know you want to have respect but
09:59
you have to find your
10:01
path you have to have some self respect
10:04
you should go out there and prove not
10:07
asking permission right
10:08
but what is that what's the saying rob
10:10
like don't ask permission but
10:12
ask for forgiveness forgiveness right
10:15
like that's forgiveness never never
10:16
never for permission yes
10:18
no and i really i tell almost all of the
10:20
young people who ask me this that same
10:22
thing
10:23
so in a disruptive sort of way but also
10:25
it depends how delicate is with
10:26
with whether a person a privilege or
10:28
let's go to the other side a student or
10:31
um or young person before you go there
10:34
we can start on the privileged point of
10:35
view this is my view is
10:38
is the view of people that uh i can view
10:40
it from a from a person who went to law
10:42
school
10:43
and uh worked for a corporate firm for a
10:47
while i mean i
10:48
hated every minute of it every second
10:51
and i i wasn't going to law school for
10:53
that but i told myself well look i
10:54
looked at the salary said this is good
10:56
but it's like it's like the golden
10:57
handcuffs it's you feel like you're
10:59
you're doing something that you're
11:01
supposed to do
11:02
but if you're if you're miserable in
11:04
your experience you're going to be
11:05
miserable
11:06
and you're gonna kind of have some uh
11:11
animosity towards your parents i mean it
11:12
may not be it may not be like
11:14
we won't hate them or anything but there
11:16
will be this bent up
11:17
animosity and so free yourself i tell
11:20
people free themselves from that because
11:22
at the end of the day if you make a
11:23
bunch of money and you hate your
11:25
existence
11:26
what is the point right what's the
11:28
purpose
11:30
on top of it i also always say i totally
11:33
believe that i also also i also also
11:38
i also say um for me it's about
11:41
leaving your mark not in a shakespearean
11:44
way like
11:44
i want to have a candidate of poetry and
11:46
you revere me and know my name
11:48
but leaving your mark and your and
11:51
whether and for me
11:52
as an artist it's about whatever i can
11:54
be something i'm going through to make
11:56
something beautiful to make something
11:57
ugly that i'm going through
11:58
to really like find catharsis and
12:01
process in there
12:02
and then make an individual stamp on
12:03
each single person i meet whether
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it's here with you and me um whether
12:07
it's on the phone with somebody whether
12:08
it's with a student through an entire
12:10
semester like leaving these indelible
12:12
marks on each other
12:13
is what our entire existence is about
12:16
like
12:16
giving that's giving a gift right is
12:18
because you have something to give and
12:20
every single one of us
12:22
has something out there to give right
12:24
there everyone has their own unique
12:26
experiences or unique perspectives and
12:28
also the way to find
12:29
um that solace and finding
12:33
out that other people that you're not
12:35
alone yeah
12:36
there's so while there's your unique
12:39
snowflake
12:41
thumbprint self there's also this
12:44
wonderful
12:45
humanity in togetherness right yeah and
12:48
that's why even sharing
12:49
art i also even whoever i'm talking to
12:52
but especially for
12:53
younger people right um i'm saying
12:57
talk to your parents and performance and
12:59
and talk about the experience of the
13:00
entire audience together of all
13:02
different walks of life
13:03
inhaling at the same time wow at the
13:06
same time
13:07
having those moments together or even in
13:08
a dance class or whatever it is
13:10
everyone reacting in the same way and
13:13
receiving from whatever the artist has
13:15
given and that can be on a museum
13:17
wall too right right important and
13:20
beautiful just that
13:21
those stamps are right whether they're
13:24
through movement or the written word or
13:26
through song
13:27
so um yeah so what's interesting
13:30
we we've talked about how you are
13:34
helping people understand the full
13:36
context of what it means to
13:38
to be in dance to be an american dance
13:40
that is not this limited view that folks
13:42
have but this can be a challenge i'm
13:44
curious to hear
13:45
a story where you've had a challenge on
13:47
this i i i i recall
13:49
i recall when folks got all upset about
13:52
uh the little mermaid and all of a
13:54
sudden they made the little mermaid
13:55
black
13:56
and like there were all these trolls
13:58
that came out so much so
13:59
that disney it wasn't like it was a few
14:01
crazy people it was a lot of people that
14:03
responded like how can you do this oh my
14:05
god
14:06
uh she's she's not black she's white i
14:08
said first of all hold up
14:09
it's art it's made up it's a fantasy
14:13
this is not but people have in this mind
14:18
what art is that's just one example
14:19
right they had ariel as being
14:22
only a a white woman she couldn't
14:25
possibly be ever be a woman of color or
14:28
black like oh my god the world's gonna
14:29
end
14:30
like calm down but anyway i can imagine
14:32
i can imagine that you probably
14:34
go through something like this up in
14:37
arms it's a live
14:38
action little mermaid hello like this
14:41
thing wouldn't it be
14:42
if you're really reverent about the art
14:44
and the origins
14:46
wouldn't it go all the way back to the
14:47
written word of that story
14:49
so i don't so for me yeah but of course
14:52
it's not about that it's about an
14:53
identity people have in their mind
14:55
and this is they have people have an
14:56
identity of what classical dance and
14:58
what dance is supposed to be in america
15:00
so how do you go about tackling that
15:03
when people might have an image built up
15:05
that is
15:06
obviously based on their limited
15:07
perspective yeah i mean i
15:09
love i love to just constantly call
15:12
myself a troublemaker or rabble rouser
15:14
or disrupter so that's why i
15:16
gravitate towards you rob um but
15:19
really my company's mission and my whole
15:21
mission just as a human in life has been
15:25
to to change perception right to not
15:29
let the status quo be be
15:32
um accepted and to challenge that so
15:35
even the company to have a shift to help
15:37
create a shift um
15:41
especially about dance but like what do
15:43
you first imagine when you hear american
15:45
dance
15:45
right right holds american dance and
15:48
you're like okay
15:50
it's a white dance company that's
15:51
performing modern dance on stage right
15:52
or it's about maybe it's
15:54
a bt it's new york city ballet right
15:56
right um
15:57
and rarely there might be like a handful
15:59
of people who think of alvin ailey
16:00
right or in the dance if i'm talking
16:02
about the dance field then okay then
16:04
that might be a little bit
16:05
a little bit more diverse perspective or
16:07
thinking just because of the people that
16:08
are
16:09
in this in that sector right right
16:12
in general if you ask every every man
16:14
every
16:15
woman what is american dance that's
16:17
you're they're going to equate it with
16:19
whiteness and americanness with
16:21
whiteness right
16:22
so just like this ariel little mermaid
16:25
just like um
16:26
kamala harris just like anyone do you
16:29
remember do you remember when there was
16:30
this big stink
16:31
um when uh what is that what is that
16:33
song that the country song that the
16:35
black guy
16:36
made um oh yeah road old town road
16:39
oh yeah they were so literally
16:42
the uh the the music genre which i
16:45
forgot what they called
16:46
they didn't call it country because they
16:48
said it wasn't housed is not country
16:49
it's not
16:50
country because it it doesn't fit in
16:53
what
16:53
because why it's it's very much a
16:55
country song but it had it kind of
16:57
reminds me what blue 13 does it just
16:59
infuse some different aspects and by the
17:01
way note
17:02
country music has a lot of roots in
17:04
blackness they just
17:05
and theft right exactly they just don't
17:08
talk about it anymore
17:10
but it but it's there and people i mean
17:12
people got really upset people got upset
17:13
with wrangler jeans and said they want
17:15
to stop wearing them i mean
17:16
so much so that people have that
17:17
wrangler genes have to respond to well
17:19
we represent everybody you know not just
17:21
a certain sex so
17:23
i guess when you go about changing your
17:24
mind you can use i understand
17:26
your purpose we agree how do you how do
17:29
you tackle that
17:31
in a place where people aren't sometimes
17:33
in their brain yet where they can see
17:36
this is not different they're not
17:37
receptive but you still have to go and
17:39
approach
17:40
that ceo or that person to make them
17:42
understand
17:43
why this is something that is american
17:46
that makes sense my question makes sense
17:48
i mean and i could probably talk if we
17:50
teach courses about this
17:51
too about just the theft of black art
17:55
for um acceptable
17:58
palatable white consumption and then how
18:00
that's the root that's literally the
18:02
root of pop culture
18:03
and it's so many so many so many
18:06
different dance forms right
18:07
in the united states so when we're not
18:10
thinking of american-ness because we've
18:11
taken
18:12
something that's been co-opted right and
18:14
then made palpable for white audiences
18:17
come to fame become a commodity and um
18:19
become elite right and this is even for
18:22
european ballet right ballet
18:23
up here as a height of all things
18:26
hip-hop
18:27
cultural forms everything else like this
18:29
so even when people talk about it in
18:30
their body languages like when i go to
18:32
dance conferences and these are people
18:33
who
18:34
are are bipoc artists right right
18:37
might say oh you know like it's not
18:39
ballet but it's this
18:41
talking about their own work so then i
18:43
have to say hey
18:44
especially these conferences if we have
18:45
a form to kind of interrogate yeah
18:47
hey let's stop doing that let's not make
18:50
our body languages dancers even
18:52
denigrate our own forms right like
18:55
what's the investigation behind
18:56
it why is this american um
19:00
how what does it mean to be american an
19:02
american dance maker or art maker
19:04
right um and why and why
19:07
are you defensive and i could be talking
19:09
literally rob to
19:10
people where it's dangerous for me right
19:13
to an agent
19:14
to a presenter right like i could be
19:16
talking to um
19:18
i don't know some giant hall in new york
19:21
city that wants to book dance companies
19:23
but i
19:24
if i have the gall at a conference to
19:26
say why are you
19:27
defensive when i'm telling you that on
19:30
your season for the past four years
19:32
you've had two black companies and
19:33
that's it
19:34
and you've ignored entire entirely all
19:37
indigenous
19:38
people any other forms of dance of
19:40
people of color
19:42
why is that then you get defensive and
19:45
this is something i come across
19:46
all the way through 2020. right even in
19:49
the midst of
19:50
everything going on in 2020 people still
19:53
don't necessarily
19:54
see it and to me it's never been clear
19:56
like the the
19:58
electoral politics everything else
19:59
people are and how people say like well
20:02
you know i love the line that i'm not
20:04
racist and then the butt follows
20:08
like but right and then you know
20:11
people are so defensive about it but my
20:14
uh
20:15
my response to people is that i think
20:17
everybody's bias racist whatever you
20:18
want to call it and unless you're
20:20
willing to acknowledge it you're going
20:22
to be more so
20:23
and the question is what are you willing
20:24
to do to challenge your bias and check
20:27
it
20:27
and people don't want to do that and
20:29
they'd rather just say like you said i
20:30
hired
20:31
two black companies or i hire two people
20:33
and that's it like okay
20:35
check the box right and we if we ever
20:38
want to be
20:39
we want to get if we ever want to get
20:40
real equity we have to go past check the
20:42
box
20:43
well because there has to be this i it's
20:45
this idea of the defensiveness comes i
20:47
think
20:49
out of um out of a loss of comfort
20:53
right yep loss of that status quo
20:56
comfort where i don't i don't have to
20:58
think about it that full privilege right
21:00
i didn't have to now with the murder of
21:02
george floyd and ever and the uprising
21:03
and everything afterwards it's being put
21:05
more in people's faces
21:07
and they have to have the space through
21:08
covet i'm sure you've talked about this
21:10
non-stop
21:11
during clovid that they have to consume
21:13
it at the same time that gives a lot of
21:15
room
21:16
um for the trolls to come out too right
21:19
it does
21:20
when there's somebody in charge of the
21:23
country
21:24
who is a who is a troll yeah
21:27
he's a troll i can just say that he's
21:29
volunteers not for long
21:31
not for long
21:34
um yeah but yeah so it leaves room for
21:36
that too
21:37
but i just um i always say that like
21:40
that defensiveness is also
21:42
the fear of lose fear of losing
21:44
something
21:45
right and regardless of where you are
21:48
how much money you're making
21:50
as a family or person the fear of um
21:54
listening right is there the fear of
21:57
loss
21:58
of status um and ability to sort of tell
22:01
people what to do and be like the white
22:02
straight man that's in charge of the
22:04
room yeah
22:06
because look you you mentioned a few
22:07
things that i think are important
22:09
and are worth diving into people have a
22:13
false belief a narrative that's been
22:15
built up
22:16
and it's hard for people to let it go
22:18
right when you've been i forgot what the
22:20
saying is like if
22:21
i forgot what the premise of this uh
22:23
this law is but the more someone tries
22:25
to
22:26
the more you try to go after someone's
22:27
identity even if the identity is based
22:29
on nothingness the harder the more they
22:30
will resist you
22:32
and so we know that there is an identity
22:34
built up in white superiority whether
22:35
they say it or not it is it's built up
22:37
there right
22:37
it's there and people want to and people
22:40
don't want to say it
22:41
but you know clearly when people get mad
22:43
about
22:45
ariel and little mermaid and or they get
22:47
upset and when you try to talk about art
22:49
hip hop is hip hop is very much art it
22:52
is very much art
22:53
it's art that you may not understand but
22:55
how is it not arc it's
22:56
very it is right and so and i i think
23:00
when you get people to understand
23:02
i say for people to grow you have to be
23:04
they have to they have to embrace being
23:06
uncomfortable you have to be comfortable
23:07
being
23:08
uncomfortable and that is why it's so
23:10
hard to see growth
23:12
and people have been they've had these
23:13
false narratives brought up about like
23:14
you look at the
23:15
you look at this whole thing after the
23:16
george floyd movement a lot of things
23:18
happen
23:19
uh one was you know whether this was the
23:21
best response or not it's still
23:23
i i agree with taking down these statues
23:26
that are
23:27
based upon the confederacy and you have
23:29
people say well you're tearing down
23:31
our culture no
23:34
no i said the confederacy are against
23:37
america
23:38
and people like somehow they made it
23:40
they made this image
23:41
that they are for america so it's been
23:43
very difficult because people have some
23:45
people have an image
23:46
and they don't even understand the image
23:48
that that is built around racism and so
23:50
it's been very difficult
23:52
to have this conversation because
23:53
there's so many layers to it
23:55
and sometimes it's exhausting and
23:58
sometimes i don't even want to have the
23:59
conversation anymore because i'm like
24:00
well i don't want to exhaust myself but
24:02
how do you i guess like i'm having my
24:04
own counseling session with you how do
24:05
you go about
24:07
how do you go about not being exhausted
24:09
by the conversation and still keeping
24:11
positive while not being discouraged
24:13
because sometimes that is hard
24:15
i will tell you for me it can be yeah
24:17
exhausting and um
24:19
and hit feel like you're hitting your
24:20
head against the wall and you have to
24:22
sometimes
24:23
pull back and you can't say certain
24:24
things because then they won't get it
24:26
but it's then you have to just you have
24:27
to just
24:28
figure out how to have the patience and
24:30
you're not the one that actually has the
24:31
misunderstanding it's the person you're
24:33
talking to
24:34
yeah so there's that thing that oh so
24:36
much good stuff that you said rob
24:38
like especially about the part of um
24:41
identity and like if you're attacking it
24:43
they feel like their identity is being
24:45
attacked um but it's like a con
24:48
i i feel a constant defense um
24:52
and i just i could try to continue
24:56
to move forward through it as delicately
24:58
or indelicately as the situation calls
25:00
for right right
25:01
even like we're talking about like those
25:03
kids who ask for advice it depends what
25:05
their
25:06
their home life is like right right on
25:09
there
25:09
of the way i'm gonna respond same kind
25:11
of thing here right like if it's an
25:13
in-law or a family member this is a
25:16
relationship that i have to preserve as
25:18
a family member
25:20
and but it's important for me to
25:21
interrogate things like
25:23
why did you vote for trump why do you
25:25
think that that
25:26
that doesn't make you a racist or any of
25:28
these things right um
25:30
i'm not saying my family i'm just saying
25:31
these conversations that come up
25:32
constantly about
25:34
which with people the way they're voting
25:37
especially right now right yes
25:38
so many like dancers friends students
25:41
whoever
25:42
talking about like okay my aunt my
25:44
father-in-law my dis my that
25:46
voted for trump like i don't even know
25:47
how to look at this person yeah right
25:49
like
25:50
so then it's about well is it worth the
25:52
two
25:54
and then yes it's worth a drink can you
25:56
live without this person
25:57
okay no okay so then it's worth like
26:00
what's my
26:01
root what's my way in staunch republican
26:04
that's
26:05
screaming about i've always voted
26:07
republican then what's your way in
26:09
is that or or a roe v wade argument you
26:12
know
26:12
so really being armed with facts and
26:15
information
26:19
right i completely agree and i think and
26:22
let me know if
26:23
i'm not not saying this right but
26:26
i think what you have to what you're
26:27
saying is that as you engage
26:29
people to try to change their
26:31
perspective
26:32
is to understand their perspective first
26:36
and and frame it in a way that they can
26:38
understand it to make them understand
26:40
that they are not
26:41
living up to their own perspective yes
26:43
perfect
26:44
perfectly sad right and it might sound a
26:47
little
26:47
um condescending but you kind of have to
26:51
spoon feed
26:53
depending on people can only take steps
26:55
it's not it's not condescending it's
26:56
the mind cannot work all at once you're
26:58
not going to convert someone
27:01
that has this belief overnight they have
27:02
it for a reason
27:04
uh they're around people usually that
27:05
are reinforcing
27:07
their own belief in and god if you're on
27:09
social media now you can just have it
27:11
reinforced all day every day and you
27:12
believe it's real because you're
27:14
surrounding yourself with those same
27:15
like-minded people right right and you
27:17
get all of a sudden
27:18
you get multiple sources of content this
27:20
must be the truth
27:21
and and why
27:24
and then you're being so deeply gaslit
27:26
by saying when real factual evidentiary
27:28
news is presented
27:30
you're told this is fake news right but
27:32
that's the beauty of art i will say what
27:34
you're saying
27:34
the beauty of art is that art has always
27:37
been used in a way
27:39
it's always allowed people to just to
27:42
say and take more controversial stances
27:44
in a way that people can
27:45
relate like you know dave chappelle said
27:47
he doesn't say anything serious without
27:49
a punch line
27:49
but everything he's saying has a social
27:52
context richard pryor before him
27:54
you look at uh you look at uh you look
27:56
at you look at stevie wonder
27:57
a lot of his pieces if you listen to
27:59
them they're all about
28:00
social movements and they all have
28:04
they all have some message beyond just
28:06
making you feel good making you dance
28:08
bob marley same thing there's a lot of
28:09
deep
28:11
material and art art can transform
28:13
perspectives
28:14
and content in a way that other venues
28:17
can't
28:17
yeah absolutely oh i like yeah
28:19
absolutely agree with that
28:20
and you can and you and that's the draw
28:23
in right
28:24
some beautiful or ugly piece of art or
28:27
dance right that brings the audience in
28:30
and then you're asked about it later
28:32
well what did this especially when it's
28:33
like a little bit more abstract right
28:35
right mean or even if it's not
28:38
absolutely let's say i'm doing like a
28:38
full
28:39
20 person bollywood dance number on
28:41
stage
28:42
and then the question might come about
28:43
oh that was so great that was so great
28:45
um
28:46
i'm interested to know why you have um
28:49
not that many indian people in your
28:51
company
28:52
why are most of the people in your
28:53
company black and this is like questions
28:55
that come up afterwards right
28:57
you know so it that it just gets people
28:59
interrogating
29:00
in a different way to ask the question
29:02
to talk to the artist or the dance maker
29:05
about their process and where they are
29:07
and what it means so
29:08
then you're unveiling just deeper deeper
29:10
levels and the other part that
29:12
that you're fighting up against besides
29:14
the people reinforcing like through
29:16
social media like you're talking about
29:17
if i circle back to that point
29:19
is you're dealing with people who
29:20
through generations and people
29:23
these are people that they love and
29:25
respect that have taught them these
29:27
things
29:27
right when you're when it's perceived as
29:30
an attack on
29:31
so and so it's an attack on my mother
29:34
and my father
29:36
so they're they're all they can think
29:38
about is
29:39
me so defensive you're taking something
29:42
from me
29:42
and this is natural that's how people
29:44
think people are that way right
29:46
so again you know like if i've made
29:49
trouble at a dance conference to to
29:52
fight with some
29:53
white people about how they never have
29:55
anyone on uh
29:57
on their stages or with agents that only
29:59
that are like we've satisfied our
30:00
indians because we have classical indian
30:03
dance
30:04
and i'm like well i'm indian
30:07
my work pulls from classical indian
30:09
dance but i'm am i less indian or
30:11
relevant to you
30:12
as the agent the gatekeeper right
30:15
because i don't fit into your box and
30:16
according to what uh indian artist is
30:19
supposed to be
30:20
or americanness or americanness exactly
30:23
because i think that's very important
30:24
because at the end of the day
30:26
uh you're an american he's having to be
30:28
of indian descent like we're
30:30
that's the whole point of america at
30:31
least i thought yeah that's what i
30:33
thought
30:34
i constantly have to fight for in the
30:36
art making right
30:39
in a good way like that's where my i you
30:41
know i people i enjoy a good fight too
30:43
a good righteous fight nothing nothing
30:45
better and that's like who
30:47
i that's just like part of my identity
30:49
that's like where i feel comfortable
30:50
right right
30:52
i think i've talked about this ad
30:53
nauseam probably people are sick and we
30:54
talk about the tightrope
30:56
metaphor yeah that's where i
31:00
that's where my identity is an identity
31:02
of so many um
31:04
children or immigrants but anyone that
31:06
has that's an artist that has a deal
31:08
with these
31:08
kind of constructs and binaries right
31:10
that you
31:12
are constantly dipping your tone both
31:13
sides trying to satisfy both
31:15
trying to get the grant money for this
31:17
trying to get get the gig here trying to
31:19
show your work
31:20
and you're on the tear up so your
31:22
identity becomes those eggshells
31:23
right yeah that's just who you are is
31:27
are these kind of two warring opposites
31:29
but then there's some kind of comfort in
31:30
there after some time like it's not fun
31:32
when you're 14.
31:34
yeah when you know you just continue to
31:36
kind of go through and as you develop i
31:38
think
31:38
just as a human and an artist um
31:42
a good transition it's a question think
31:44
about advice you would give your younger
31:47
self since you said you were 14
31:49
what advice would you give your younger
31:50
self knowing all the things you know now
31:53
and then what advice would you ignore
31:55
yeah i would probably say
31:57
um i would probably say go dance
32:01
for our company well a little longer
32:04
before you create your own
32:05
interesting so you would you wouldn't
32:06
have gone out on your own as quickly
32:08
tell me why maybe not as quickly because
32:10
i just
32:11
i feel like part of it was i don't see
32:13
anything anyone making anything that i
32:15
want to
32:15
see on stage or make or dance a lot of
32:18
it was that
32:19
and the diaspora thing being completely
32:21
ignored in the american dance realm
32:23
but another part was fear straight out
32:25
of college
32:27
[ __ ] i made can i swear sorry you can
32:29
swear yes you can swear so wait so your
32:31
advice would be go do it sooner or
32:33
later i did a little bit out of fear i
32:37
majored in dance what do i do you did
32:39
what out of fear actually started your
32:40
business
32:40
yeah interesting usually people don't
32:43
leave out of fear but you
32:45
started your business out of fear now
32:46
that's new talk about the eggshells the
32:49
fine line so part of it was being brazen
32:52
and young and saying i'm just going to
32:54
start my own company there's nothing out
32:55
there
32:56
that looks like what i want or
32:58
represents me
32:59
and then the other part of it was i'm
33:01
too scared to audition
33:03
oh okay for the yeah that like
33:06
self-doubt the insecurity of youth
33:08
of being an artist as a woman oh so you
33:09
would have wanted to dance in other
33:10
words definitely i get it
33:12
and i did and i have i've had a
33:14
wonderful korean
33:15
i've danced a ton i don't perform
33:17
anymore but like i've had a wonderful
33:19
career
33:19
but i might have been like hey go go be
33:22
fearless
33:23
and see what it's like or go get some
33:24
rejections or like you know and also
33:27
just to see
33:28
the inner workers of the company because
33:29
for me it was a lot of fake it till you
33:31
make it in the beginning
33:33
that's what it ever that's what
33:34
everybody's is it is yeah
33:36
it is it is but i felt like if i had
33:38
kind of seen some of the inner workings
33:40
that might have helped
33:41
yeah no i may agree because it's
33:42
intimidating you don't know how to price
33:43
stuff you don't know how to do anything
33:46
you're just really you're making that's
33:47
the part that's the hard part to fake it
33:48
till you make it because then you're
33:49
like oh well i'm not making any profit
33:50
we gotta do something different here
33:53
like i would price it way too high or i
33:55
would do it yeah i had no idea
33:57
no i mean i get it it's the struggle of
33:59
every every new entrepreneur at some
34:02
point and it's the
34:03
there is a tight rope here because you
34:04
never really you're never going to have
34:07
all the information you need you just
34:08
need enough information like you need
34:10
you need probably about 50 of the
34:11
information once you got that there's
34:13
never going to be more than that so you
34:14
just got to kind of go and move forward
34:16
and step out on some faith so
34:18
look i mean you've had a great career
34:19
like you said so that's actually good
34:21
advice to yourself all right
34:22
a couple of uh wrap-up questions here so
34:24
what's an important
34:26
truth you have might be controversial
34:28
that few people might agree with you on
34:30
oh a controversial truth let's see
34:34
um
34:38
probably that um respect isn't
34:41
automatic from our elders and our
34:44
gatekeepers
34:45
that they're that that's where we get
34:47
into the danger and that we have to
34:49
continue to uh interrogate that and that
34:53
because that causes a lot of self that
34:55
can get in my way
34:56
right got it if i just accept everything
34:59
that's
35:00
i'm told by my elders as a good girl
35:03
then i'm never going to make it i would
35:05
never be anything if i do
35:07
so that's that that i think that's
35:09
important because we're told to accept
35:11
and we
35:12
default to the we default to the truth
35:14
that's been given to us
35:16
and often we assume because they've been
35:19
around or they've been successful that
35:20
doesn't mean
35:21
it's a the best path for us and we don't
35:23
know always how they became successful
35:26
too and it
35:26
might not apply to our situation and
35:29
usually it doesn't i've said this many
35:30
times on my show
35:32
when i look at other people their their
35:34
process is their process my process is
35:36
my process like
35:37
i can't compare myself to somebody else
35:39
and how they achieve because
35:42
it's different my path and process will
35:44
be different i think there are some
35:45
learning lessons you can draw from
35:47
uh things that they did their their
35:49
their work ethic but you can't try to
35:51
replicate anybody's processing
35:53
right yeah yeah it's not good yeah and
35:56
whether they're people that are
35:57
politicians or grandparents like i mean
36:00
i mean it's
36:01
like that granular level of being like
36:03
well do i need to it's a little nuchen
36:06
right no question everything i mean you
36:08
teach people
36:08
and help teach my kids this too don't
36:11
accept anything
36:12
don't accept everything anybody says
36:14
question question everything including
36:16
me
36:17
i love what you're saying yes including
36:20
the books that you're given including
36:21
religion like that's
36:22
very dangerous territory but no but but
36:26
it's true because if you don't
36:28
they'll have i mean there are the books
36:30
are filled with
36:32
religious leaders cult leaders that have
36:34
led people off of
36:36
clips cliffs massive horrible tragedies
36:39
i mean people use
36:41
when you know this i mean i'm sure you
36:42
do people use religion
36:44
to justify all types of atrocities and
36:47
we were supposed to be following the
36:48
elders and
36:50
and we we did this because our religion
36:52
told us to and your religion didn't tell
36:53
you to like somebody use it as a power
36:55
play this is why we have to question
36:56
everything
36:57
so totally and i think like the root of
36:59
it is escape you know that sort of
37:01
escaping the hurt it's really simple
37:04
don't be lazy do your homework it's
37:06
simple but it's not easy though it's
37:08
very very difficult for the human brain
37:10
just so i mean the human brain
37:12
is wired to be working with its tribe
37:15
like we are
37:16
right interdependent creatures therefore
37:21
we believe in actually our brain i mean
37:22
the science shows that our brains
37:24
literally are rewired by the people we
37:26
hang around
37:27
which is why it's so important to hang
37:30
around the right people because
37:31
you're going to be like though you're
37:32
going to be like the people that you
37:33
hang around no matter what
37:35
right and just right totally and like to
37:37
be and be okay with the uncertainty
37:39
that happens with that right right like
37:42
okay with
37:43
okay i'm gonna i was given this religion
37:45
but i'm gonna read about buddhism in
37:46
this
37:46
absolutely like arm yourself with what
37:49
you know the enemy
37:50
is thinking like like arm yourself with
37:53
that if you're going to make any
37:54
any arm yourself with great knowledge i
37:55
mean there is some great knowledge
37:57
within
37:57
all texts that you can learn something
37:59
and there's no threat to me
38:01
from learning from other people in in in
38:04
in teaching so
38:05
but you have to have but that takes
38:06
security in yourself though that takes
38:08
security
38:09
and being comfortable being
38:11
uncomfortable so it's just a lot of
38:12
people are not that and it's
38:14
people look at my friends i mean i
38:15
probably have i'm sure i have a very
38:17
diverse
38:18
set of friends more than most it's
38:20
because that's that's always been my
38:22
experience uh
38:23
another question so what if you you have
38:26
three people on your committee
38:28
this is a committee that advises you on
38:29
life business
38:31
whatever you want they can be a they can
38:33
be living they can be dead
38:35
anybody through history who are these
38:38
people who are these three people
38:41
three people on my committee oh my
38:43
goodness your committee for life
38:45
oh my life committee um let's see
38:49
my brother jacqueline okay
38:53
you're he's a living person
38:56
okay brilliant thinker um and gives me a
38:59
lot
38:59
a lot of pushback too so that that's
39:01
good he wound you with the truth
39:03
right i'm not his boss you know and he's
39:06
just a brilliant mind and inventor
39:08
inventive thinker um okay and can like
39:11
temper my storm a little bit
39:13
all right who else you got two others i
39:16
have
39:16
let's go with
39:21
siddharth okay yeah the buddha
39:25
for obvious reasons i think well tell
39:27
your reasons because people may not know
39:28
well i think just to travel down um that
39:31
we're talking so much about tightropes
39:33
but travel down this path
39:35
of um not of not equating materialism
39:40
and material wealth with happiness and
39:44
self-fulfillment and um enlightenment
39:48
yeah and to really look inwards and just
39:51
and be live a simple kind life right to
39:55
just exert human kindness
39:57
on a on a daily level um okay yeah
40:00
hmm i need a woman
40:05
my third who's my third gonna be my god
40:09
show me on the spot rob sorry well let's
40:12
see
40:17
the dancer
40:21
we can come back to it we can come back
40:23
to it
40:25
because i only get three i'm like do i
40:26
get two you get three you get three but
40:28
you can go
40:28
you could if you want to think about it
40:29
later you come back to that or we'll
40:30
stop it too let's let's get the final
40:32
question in so
40:33
you have a um billboard uh google ad
40:36
that summarizes your saying your theme
40:40
for life what does that say and what i
40:41
say
40:42
oh my god uh my billboard for life yes
40:46
give me face or give me death no i'm
40:48
kidding
40:51
that's what i say to my students when
40:52
we're dancing what do you say
40:54
i said give me faith
40:58
your expression your inner you're who
40:59
you are um that could be good that's
41:02
good
41:02
but i think it's more of this it's um
41:05
the only way out is through
41:07
okay yeah that's a good one that's
41:10
that's why i put it
41:11
that's why i tattooed that well yeah
41:12
yeah well good so you you actually have
41:14
that you have your say
41:15
tattooed on you that makes it rather
41:16
easy okay
41:21
yeah just fight through it get fight
41:23
through it and get and get there you
41:25
know
41:26
yeah why does that say it means so much
41:28
to you is that was there something in
41:29
your life that points to that really
41:31
that that inspires that or is just
41:34
generally
41:35
not just life and career definitely
41:37
everything that we talked about
41:38
um and just not being afraid of the
41:40
fight but just any adversity
41:42
tragedy loss of loved ones you know you
41:46
have to
41:47
get through it um is there any moment in
41:49
particular that really that that stands
41:51
out where that really kind of
41:52
yeah i think this is this is a heavy one
41:56
of just the loss of my sister yeah when
41:58
did you lose your sister
41:59
in 2003. yeah i lost my sister this year
42:02
you did it rob
42:04
yeah lost my sister at the beginning of
42:06
this year yep
42:07
i'm so sorry um yeah oh sorry i'm
42:09
sending you lots of love but
42:11
thank you especially when early that's
42:14
advice that i tell anyone and i feel
42:15
like part of my
42:17
stamp on this earth is to to help people
42:21
to be the example of going through loss
42:23
like that in such a
42:24
long way and to be able to help and be
42:27
an example to have the solace that you
42:28
and i have gone through this
42:30
i'm still standing i'm flourishing and i
42:33
can use her her
42:36
incredible um life that you know i was
42:39
touched with for so many years
42:41
it was short and it was unfair and
42:43
everything it was a horrible thing to go
42:44
through but
42:45
i can i think of her every day you know
42:48
i
42:48
she's so i'm so lucky to have had her um
42:52
and this is you know this is something
42:54
that
42:56
when i i can compare myself then to
42:57
somebody who's had far more tragedy
43:00
right right you know and
43:03
um it all just depends on your
43:05
perspective but for me
43:06
barreling through those first few years
43:09
that were
43:10
really the hardest um i don't
43:13
you know i do not at the time you
43:15
weren't thinking it but now having gone
43:17
through it for
43:17
you know for so many years and being
43:19
able to realize and to tell other people
43:22
are going through loss or feeling really
43:24
hopeless
43:25
yeah that you that you're not alone and
43:27
don't let
43:28
you know you don't um like try to
43:31
compartmentalize it try to take
43:33
to take a deep breath and pull the
43:34
strands apart because it can feel like
43:36
an avalanche
43:37
but um that you can get through it and
43:40
if i can get through it
43:41
you know of losing my best friend in the
43:44
world um
43:45
then and and i can still i can dance
43:48
about it and talk about it
43:49
and and make these kind of connections
43:51
with other people like yeah
43:53
which again i i always say that to him
43:55
like what a terrible thing to have in
43:56
common
43:57
but also what um solace we can give each
44:00
other
44:01
yeah no i completely agree and
44:04
you know i mean my beliefs is i believe
44:06
you know she's
44:07
with us still but just a change of venue
44:10
and
44:11
our goal and mission to life is to live
44:14
and
44:15
and and serve really really we
44:19
we serve our the ones that have
44:21
transitioned
44:22
by living and taking their legacy and
44:25
telling about their legacy through our
44:26
work and through what we do in life and
44:28
this is what you're doing so
44:30
you know congratulations for that and uh
44:33
uh and chita has been an honor to have
44:34
you on enchinta
44:35
it's been it's been an honor to have you
44:37
on thanks rob it's been wonderful
44:39
talking to you i could do this for days
44:40
yeah good to have you on with the blue
44:43
dan blue 13 dance company
44:45
we'll have more in the bio and it's uh
44:47
it's been great to have you on
44:48
thanks rob thank you

HOSTED BY

ROB RICHARDSON

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“Disruptive Dancing is the new American Jig.”

Blue13 Dance Company is an American dance theatre ensemble based in Los Angeles, with a mission to drive a substantive shift in the perception and practice of American dance through performance, outreach, and education. 

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ROB RICHARDSON

Entrepreneur & Keynote Speaker

Rob Richardson is the host of disruption Now Podcast and the owner of DN Media Agency, a full-service digital marketing and research company. He has appeared on MSNBC, America this Week, and is a weekly contributor to Roland Martin Unfiltered.

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